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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Book for Every Need—Except One

posted by on July 22 at 16:15 PM

Dex (that’s the company that makes the phone book) has delivered three phone books—white, yellow, and mini pages—to each address in Seattle. But nobody uses phone books anymore, right? Apartment buildings have stacks out front. My house got three on the front porch. We don’t even have a land line, but Dex delivers them anyway. Last summer, the public intern got the thankless task of trying to round them up, and Savage took one for beach reading. This year, inside the front cover, the book proudly announces…


A book for every need. That is, every need related to vacuum repair and pizza delivery. One need the book doesn’t meet: How to get rid of them. When I called Dex, a cheerful woman in the central time zone said that if I didn’t want the books I should recycle them. But I explained that since they are such nice books, and since other people might request them, I’d hate for my phone book to go to waste. She replied that if I want the phone books picked up, I’d have to have 15 of them. Translation: If you want Dex to come get your useless phone book, call the number below and say you have 15 unwanted phone books.

Dex: (877) 243-8339, wait for the auto-bot to finish a short spiel, then press “1.”

Phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., CST. While you’re on the phone, tell them you’d like to permanently cancel phone book deliveries. They’ll take down your address and that, with the grace of God, will be the last call to Dex you’ll ever make.

RSS icon Comments


Beautiful! Thank you for posting.

Posted by one chalupa | July 22, 2008 4:25 PM

Why did Dex get fired from The Stranger?

Posted by Snark of the Covenant | July 22, 2008 4:31 PM

just recycle

like old Stranger copies

just recycle

this is a non story written by a good reporter

in my office there are a half dozen people who use the phone books a lot, others never

non story

Posted by Adam Kelper | July 22, 2008 4:38 PM

I happen to like the phone book, but I will concede that the black-smoke-belching rattletrap van and the terrified-looking illegal immigrants who delivered ours, and then delivered another one ten seconds after I brought the first set into the house, were a little, uh, sketchy.

Posted by Fnarf | July 22, 2008 4:38 PM

Awesome, I'll have to call and get my address removed. Hopefully some hapless granny doesn't move in after me. Phone books always go into the recycling bin after sitting on my porch for a few weeks hoping someone will come by and pick it up.

Posted by w7ngman | July 22, 2008 4:42 PM

these books are in their dying days. someday you'll tell your grandchildren about them, and they'll be confused.

Posted by superyeadon | July 22, 2008 4:50 PM

There's no point to taking your name off the list, they just drop them off at every doorstep.

Posted by Poll Watcher | July 22, 2008 4:50 PM

I noticed before throwing it out that my old "Seattle Metro" residential directory had 1300 pages, and the new "Seattle Metro" residential directory has barely 600 pages. Did over 50% of home phone numbers cancel or switch to unlisted in just the past year?

Posted by Creek | July 22, 2008 4:51 PM

They're handy as makeshift practice pads for drumming.

Posted by lostboy | July 22, 2008 4:53 PM

I caught them in the act this year, ran after the van and gave it back to them. Yay for working at home!

Posted by Not this year! | July 22, 2008 5:04 PM

I suggest throwing them in the street. They'll never be able to tell it was you, and if enough people do it the city will be on Dex's case for an attractive nuisance.

Posted by Fnarf | July 22, 2008 5:05 PM

I say give them all to Kelly O and Ari Spool, so they can use them for the 2009 Stranger Man-Off. Drink Rize! Hulk Out! Rip up phone book! Chug Prego! Make phony gang sign!

Imagine the possibilities!

Posted by Cookie W. Monster | July 22, 2008 5:12 PM

They are useful for giving Napoleonesque types a boost at the dinner table.

Posted by FRUITCAKEpuppet | July 22, 2008 5:17 PM

@11 is right.
Mucha energia y mucho petroleo in printing, delivering, recycling, etc. all wasted except for the few who want these phone books.

I bet they only change 4% with each annual edition, too.

Just go online.

Posted by PC | July 22, 2008 5:42 PM

I liked Steven Blum's effort to return them to Dex last year. I'm not sure it really got anywhere, but at least he tried.

Posted by rb | July 22, 2008 7:20 PM

Half of us have switched to cell phones only. No need for a landline or it's associated directories.

Posted by Bella | July 22, 2008 7:33 PM

Each phone book has a flat magnet on it, usually advertising insurance or pizza. Take every single one of these magnets off. Then cut out some of the "Specialties" ads from the Stranger classifieds and glue them to the magnet. Cut away excess magnet and stick that fucker on your fridge. Booya!

Posted by Damien | July 22, 2008 10:48 PM

When we got the deivery this year, we said to our 6yo that they were useless and we were gonna recycle them. She was like "But they're useful!" And I replied with "Do you know where our phone book is now? No, because we don't have one, because we use the internet." "Oh. Well, can we keep one for me to sit on?" "No, we have a Linux textbook for that."

Posted by NaFun | July 23, 2008 7:47 AM

The power of The Stranger could force a breakthrough in the battle with the phone book printers.

More from the Product Stewardship Institute and the waste prevention coalition:

Posted by hairyson | July 23, 2008 9:08 AM

I'm so happy you posted this. I called and told them I had 100 books in my lobby. They're sending someone over to pick them up next week. Sweet!

Posted by Daniel | July 23, 2008 9:57 AM

Weird, I posted something similar yesterday about It's kind of like a do not call list for phone books.

Posted by sonoazure | July 23, 2008 11:23 AM

My name is Philip Cantwell and I started the organization Sonoazure and everyone else that has posted here can contact me at our site at anytime and we will get back to you. We are NOT affiliated with the Yellow Page Publishers. We are a 3rd party organization that contacts the publishers on behalf of people that sign up at to stop the delivery of books. Some of the publishers accept the request and some do not. We have had thousands of signs up and continue to get hundreds per day. has worked with organizations around the world in setting up similar sites to stop the unsolicited deliver of telephone books. We are currently working with some local governments on the proper working of ordinances to ban the unsolicited delivery of telephone books and have been contacted by a US Senator who wants to review our registry system.

Consumers can “opt out” of receiving telephone books at We will contact the publishers and inform them to stop delivering books. This is a free service for consumers. is not against the telephone books but against the delivery of 4 to 5 pounds of paper on people’s door step 5 to 6 times per year and being told it is our responsibility to recycle something we did not ask for. If we need a book we will call. Otherwise I “opt out” from receiving it.

Posted by Philip Cantwell | July 24, 2008 6:56 AM

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