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It’s not often the Yellow Pages makes the headlines, but those hefty tomes became front-page news when Seattle tried to block their distribution.  The Yellow Pages took the city to court, and so far they are winning, as Emily Heffter reports in the Seattle Times.  The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the phone book is protected by the First Amendment.

Does anybody agree with the court’s decision?  If you browse the comments on Heffter’s article, you wouldn’t think so.  In fact, you could easily get the impression that the phone book is nothing more than litter.  The highest-rated comment right now reads: I have not opened a phone book for about eight years. I drop it in a recycle bin the day I get them.

So why do they even bother printing the Yellow Pages if nobody uses it?  Is it possible some people actually want it?

I used data from market research firm Scarborough to find out how many folks in the Puget Sound region actually like the phone book.   Maybe I’m editorializing.  I don’t know if they in fact like the Yellow Pages — but the data show if they use it.

The chart below shows the percentage of people from different areas around the Sound who say that they use the Yellow Pages at least once per month.



Yellow Pages

Puget Sound outside King/Pierce/Snohomish*


Pierce County


Snohomish County




King County (including Seattle)


Source: Scarborough Data 2012 Release 1 and 2011 Release 1

As you can see, in Seattle and King County only around 20 percent of us still “let our fingers do the walking.” The numbers are a little higher in Pierce and Snohomish counties.  True, it’s not a large percentage of the population, but it’s many thousands of people, nonetheless.  And once you go outside King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, usage of the Yellow Pages goes way up — more than 40 percent of residents there still use it every month.  Maybe a few of these folks should sound off in the Seattle Times comments?  Their voices certainly aren’t being heard.

*Includes the following counties: Chelan, Clallam, Douglas, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, San Juan, Skagit, Thurston, Whatcom