Monday, November 17, 2008

Bailout for the Yellow Pages!

Since the government seems to want to save every business, regardless of relevance of business model, the yellow pages industry might as well jump in with their hands out.

Is it any wonder that Yellow Pages publishers are struggling (WSJ paid subscription required)? When was the last time you actually pulled out that big brick of a book to look something up?

Well, actually I did use it on Friday. They have coupons and I wanted Chinese food. =) But I had to search for it because I wasn't sure where hubby had stashed it. And even if I hadn't been able to find it I'd still have ordered because it was Friday and I deserved a treat (or so I justified).

"Print and online ad spending on yellow pages will plummet 6.3% next year, more than double the rate of decline expected for broadcast TV, according to forecasts by Wachovia analyst John Janedis. Within the next four years, ad spending will fall 39% in print directories alone -- the steepest projected decline across all local-media categories, according to media-research firm Borrell Associates.

Facing the real prospect of extinction, the publishers, many of which have considerable debt, have been slashing jobs, scrapping dividends and exiting unprofitable markets. Shares of two of the biggest publishers, R.H. Donnelley and Idearc, have plummeted 99% in the past year."

Maybe instead of delivering these ridiculously large books every six months they should make delivery optional and charge people a few dollars. If they really want one then they can pay for it. And if it is a product that people are not willing to pay for then it should go the way of the horse and buggy.

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