The internet is finally killing the yellow pages


Just before I was born, for the first time, the Yellow Pages appeared in a Brighton phone book. In 1973, the then General Post Office (GPO) extended the yellow pages to cover the whole of the UK. At that time, BT did not exist, British telecommunications were separated from GPO in 1981.

Now, after a 51-year draw, the Yellow Pages are going to end with all services moved online to Yell.com. The final print editions will be distributed throughout 2018, with the very last to be printed rightly being the Brighton, Where It All Began Edition, which will be released in January 2019. It will be the end of an era.

In truth, I won’t miss the yellow pages, even a phone book is something I never really understood the usefulness of because you only get numbers in your area. For example, having grown up on the Isle of Wight, if I want to send flowers to my mother, I want the number of a florist in the Isle of Wight, not that of Thatcham where I live now. Notice I could easily order flowers online these days, but I love local florist All Seasons in Shanklin, have been using them for almost 40 years!

Today however, rather than using a paper directory, I simply type in a Google search when I need a phone number. In fact, I’m more than likely to use voice search on my mobile because it’s easier. The world has changed and these days, with relatively high fees for directory inquiries (and extremely inflated call charges if a service connects you), I’m not sure why someone wouldn’t use the internet. when he needs a number. Either you are at home with a computer or you have your smartphone with you. Few today don’t have internet access and for friends you can just contact them by Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook, tweet or email when you need to contact them. Who needs a phone number anyway?

Bringing us back to the yellow pages, Yell has grown into a digital business – helping businesses and consumers be successful online.

“We are proud of the transformation we have made from print to digital. Like many businesses, Yell has discovered that digital success requires constant change and innovation. We are well positioned to continue to help local businesses and consumers succeed online, now and in the future.
– Richard Hanscott, CEO of Yell

If you’ve been like me for a few years, as soon as my yellow pages (or my Thomson directory) fall in the mailbox, they are transferred unopened straight to the recycling bin. This year you may want to think again and publish your copy on eBay. There is bound to be at least one fool who decides to collect the final 104 editions for posterity and is willing to bid on copies from other regions.

Life has changed over the past five decades. When the Yellow Pages came out, people wanted to do business with local businesses because they had no choice. When the internet arrived there was less need for local businesses as nationals opened depots in just about every city across the country and people started buying goods and services online (I didn’t Never visited my insurance broker in over 25 years, although they are lovely on the phone – Crowthorne Insurance Services. Gone are the days of going to a physical office to buy auto insurance!)

The Yellow Pages with their famous slogan “Let your fingers do the walking” and the adorable JR Hartley and his fly fishing book (which was fictitious but due to the success of the Yellow Pages advertising was later written by Michael Russell) are something familiar to just about every person in the UK. I will regret their passing with a sad sense of nostalgia, and then quickly google them the next time I need a phone number.

If I want a copy of Fly Fishing by JR Hartley, I’ll just buy it from eBay and don’t even have to find a bookstore number. Most bookstores, especially those with rare editions, already sell in markets, so like the recent experience of Tamebay contributor David Brackin, eBay would be my first port of call today and not the Yellow Pages. .


Calvin W. Soper

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