Arts Dan Savage’s Review of the Phone Book Inspires Angry Letter from Phone Book Publisher
posted by August 30 at 12:55 PMon
In honor of the fine weather we’re having, this week’s book section is full of recommendations from Stranger staffers of great beach reads. But we can’t do something like that with a straight face, can’t participate in the cliche that a “beach read” has to be a grocery-store thriller—because it doesn’t!—so we’ve recommended a bunch of very heavy books: Proust, Hegel, de Tocqueville, Balzac, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and the phone book. The reviewer of the phone book? Dan Savage. The reaction from phone book publisher Ken Clark? Anger, righteousness, disbelief.
Ken Clarks letter to the editor:
I wanted to congratulate Mr. Savage on a truly remarkable review of the new Dex phone books which were just delivered to his doorstep.
In his sparkling commentary he managed to offend only a half a dozen different groups and show his true grasp of the English language by eloquently mixing in several obscenities to his tirade. I just hope his parents haven’t spent a significant portion of their life savings to invest in putting him through college so he could have a degree in journalism as a background to such a fine discourse.
But most importantly is that he ignored some very key facts, or did he just not bother to find out?
• Those books that he is so annoyed about where referenced over 15 billion times last year by US adults (maybe that’s the issue—referenced by adults). And that’s just the print versions. 90% of all adults reference them at least once a year, 75% in a typical month, and 50+% on average month. How about on average 1.4X each week?
• The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the broadband market is about tapped out. There will always be a good percentage of the population that will never have access to the industry’s Internet products. Barely more than 50% of households in the U.S. (about 56 million homes), currently subscribe to a high-speed Internet service. An additional 21 million households still use dial-up connections (yes, you read that right—dial-up connections).
• But his most egregious oversight was in considering who is going to get all that neat stuff that is in those print books on to the Net so his .28 second search of Google will actually yield the results he expects??? With 40% of small businesses still without websites, it’s going be that same Yellow Pages sales rep who can provide a complete portfolio of local search and Internet based products to help that small businesses get on the Net.
But I am assuming that neither you or Mr. Savage want to hear any of that, do you??