Lileks: You can't escape the phone books

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 11, 2012 - 4:45 PM
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  • Comments

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  • 1 - 8 of 8
belascoFeb. 11, 12 7:12 PM

Useless fact: Prior to 1991, there was typically only one phonebook publisher in a given market, due to copyright concerns. Then, the Supreme Court ruled (in the case of Feist v. Rural) that telephone listings in phonebooks were not original, creative works, and thus not subject to copyright protection. Sometime after that, we starting getting 4-5 of the things each year.

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mpcdspFeb. 11, 12 7:45 PM

Years ago -- 1980's -- during my Chicago years I had a friend who ran a neighborhood grocery store; he heated it entirely by burning phone books (old ones brought in by his customers) in a little pot-belly stove. He did this for several years; then one day the soot build-up caught up with him. A chimney fire ignited the roof, the whole store burned to the ground, and he retired. The free heat was nice while it lasted, though.

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belascoFeb. 11, 1210:56 PM

Useless fact: Prior to 1991, there was typically only one phonebook publisher in a given market, due to copyright concerns. Then, the Supreme Court ruled (in the case of Feist v. Rural) that telephone listings in phonebooks were not original, creative works, and thus not subject to copyright protection. Sometime after that, we starting getting 4-5 of the things each year.

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atmplsmnFeb. 12, 12 9:53 AM

It's a no-win for Dex et. al. Waste money printing and distributing massive tomes that no one uses anymore (I honestly can't remember the last time I cracked a phone book), or save the cost of printing and distribution and watch their circulation dwindle to sub-Playboy levels.

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rkn55811Feb. 12, 12 9:58 AM

Phone books still have plenty of uses, none of which were intended by the company that prints them. For example, one is just enough right now to boost junior up to the right height to sit at the dining table.

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logician88Feb. 12, 1210:38 AM

The opt-out mechanism is a scam too. They only offer it to placate regulators to keep them from taxing phone book deliveries like Seattle did. I "opted out" two years ago and they still dump the books on my step.

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brokenglassFeb. 12, 12 7:08 PM

I use a phone book when I can't be bothered with the tedium of finding stuff on clunky corporate websites. It's refreshingly quick and easy.

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PaleriderFeb. 13, 1212:29 PM

Not advocating this, but it may be interesting to take the unwanted books to the local corporate building and deposite them on THEIR doorstep?

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