3 May 2024

You don't need to call Information to hear the days of phone books are numbered

| Sally Hopman
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New thin Canberra phone book sitting on laptop computer.

When someone famous said you could never be too rich or too thin chances are, when it came to the latter, she wasn’t talking about telephone books. Photo: Sally Hopman.

There’s sure to be an imminent Royal Commission or at least some kind of scientific study coming out immediately, if not sooner, to investigate what’s happened to the phone book. The Canberra, Yass and Queanbeyan White and Yellow Pages specifically.

Remember when it used to be thick as? We’re not talking stupidity here, we’re talking page upon page of pages of names, numbers and addresses. People who relied on landline telephones, people who thought smart phones were just landlines which had lost all connection with the real world.

We received the 2024-25 White and Yellow Pages in the office last week. Bit of a surprise really when we don’t actually have any landlines in the office. But it was nice to be remembered – and it is the thought that counts – although you have to think, why did they bother?

But not all is lost. Bits of this new phone book indicate some sort of recall. The always ecologically-friendly front cover, for example, doesn’t disappoint. Remember how they always used to show something natural, ideally not quite in danger of extinction – until at least the next edition comes out. The cover of 2024-25 has the rainforest gully at the National Botanic Gardens here in Canberra. Tick.

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It is also thoughtful. Asking, RUOK on the front cover and providing a website if you are not. All those helplines are still there in the front couple of pages. It’s excellent to see they haven’t skimped on those pages at the front dedicated to helping people find, well, all the helplines.

Remember when the phone book was always chockers with ads, you know the sort of thing that makes everything bigger and better? Not so for this 2024-2025 model. Sure there are house ads for everything telephonic, but scant few of those cute cartoon-like ones that offered you the best deals on everything from septics to saunas and almost everything in between.

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There was also an odd bit of (further) shortening its own life span on the first page – advice on how to cancel your delivery of said phone “book” with the helpful advice to just go online instead – as if you were going to save the world from way too much paper.

Also, if we’re talking odd, more than a small number of the numbers in the book are for mobiles. Who knew this landline book would have their number?

It’s also hard to tell if the names are the same inside, because there aren’t very many of them. This combination Yellow and White Pages number is about as thick as a laptop. A skinny one at that.

With so few people remaining connected to their landlines these days, you have to ask why? Sure, landlines are probably still like lifeblood for people who don’t do change, who live in areas where they have to stand on their head with their left arm raised skyward to get mobile reception, or just don’t want the extra expense.

But if we’re going to hang on, sorry, to landlines, at least bring back those bakelite monsters. When you hung up on someone with one of those little beauties, everyone heard about it.

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I can’t believe they still produce and deliver these books! I opened mine to see if I was listed in there – the answer being ‘yes’ for a landline that I no longer have any handset connected to – and then threw it in the recycle bin. I am willing to bet that I wasn’t the only person to do this. When will they work out they shouldn’t be printing it?

Rachel Barker10:51 am 06 May 24

I find this new White pages fails my validation tests: it still lists me & mine with a landline number that we cancelled several years ago.

Check the one delivered last week – Home affairs is still paying Whitepages to list a dept called DIMIA in Chan St belconnen.

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