Funny note to Yellow Pages in Canada

Yellow Pages Income Fund is trading at $0.18. (Via Reddit)


  1. I’m sure someone, somewhere, has invented a yellow-pages fueled central heating unit.  Incinerates whole pallets, shrinkwrap, zip ties, worthless stock certificates and all.

  2. If YP had enough money they could lobby the Congress to make posession of their books mandatory and penalize using non-YP online searches to find businesses. 

    Just sayin.

  3. That’s great!    They’d be better off distributing fridge magnets with a QR code to the smartphone app or something… anything else.   The amount of wasted paper here is insane!

  4. Yes! I’ve always wondered about this, why in the nine hells do they continue to give these away? Stop it, you’re wasting money, you’re wasting paper, you’re wasting everyones time.

    1. YP continues to give away tons of books nobody wants because they base their ad rates on the number of books “in circulation”.  In a wired city like Seattle the disparity between delivery and actual demand got so bad that the city govt actually has an opt-out system that the local YP has to honor or they get fined $125 per violation:

      This is just in the last year or so, I’m hoping other cities will adopt similar systems.  “Won’t somebody think of the trees?!?”

  5. Wow, that sign really told them!  I’m sure until now the Yellow Pages companies had no idea that nobody uses their product any more, or that their stock has crashed, or the relationship between these two things.

    1. Ha. True. The problem is their revenues are driven by people who still post ads with them (not by how many have receive free books)  they get paid for their circulation…..which they try to artificially inflate by giving the public books they don’t want/need.

  6. The Yellow Pages actually called my work two days ago to ask if we had received our “complimentary” copies.  Yup, there’s a small pallet of them downstairs in the lobby, we just need to borrow a push cart so we can take them all out to the recycling bin.

  7. But what are the Serial Diners of Toronto going to do when the Yellow Pages goes bust?

    They’ve been visiting all of the restaurants in the city in alphabetical order for about the last 20 years.  Is there any way to get a dump of all of the restaurants in a given postal code other than through the printed Yellow Pages?

      1. Welcome to the internet.

        The problem with using the internet for this is that it’s full of phone numbers for places that went out of business in the 1990s. And doesn’t necessarily have the phone number for the little hole-in-the-wall place that’s actually the one that you want.

          1. It’s more the ‘nothing online ever goes away’ problem.  Nine out of ten businesses fail, but their phone numbers live on(line) forever.  It’s like trying to search for software troubleshooting advice.  No matter what you search for, you inevitably get some results for Netscape Navigator or Windows 3.0.

        1. Funny enough….my folks live in a tiny city on the East Coast of Canada and still use the phone book once a month…..but its a very different stories for big cities.

  8. I’ve called them up and asked them to please stop leaving books at my home.  I live in a six unit building and they bring enough for us to all have three books each, every single one of which goes straight into the recycling bin.  Each time I’m told that I have been removed from the list, but the books still keep coming.  I imagine they have to distribute them to create bogus circulation numbers to justify the rates they charge for the listing.  Ultimately I envision the presses that print the books will be fueled by the books themselves.

  9. Remember when CDs came in long cardboard boxes that people said were environmentally unfriendly? The great Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap had the best response to that, which was something like, “No, we’re all  for the environment. That’s what all the cardboard is about. We’re giving it to people and saying, here’s a lot of cardboard for you to recycle.”

    That’s what I think Yellow Pages is doing. They’re encouraging people to recycle by giving us something that we’re going to chuck in the recycling bin the moment we get it.

    1.  That’s a great example. I think that the CD sleeve was there both to make them a little harder to steal and also because record stores still had LP-sized bins and didn’t want to convert over to shallower bins yet.

  10. One fun thing to do with them…
    Me and some friends always grab a couple copies on our way upstairs to another friends’ apartment… and then hide them in odd places in his place.

    When he moved, he found literally 38 copies hidden in his place.

    They make a great makeshift monitor stand, too – I have 3 of them on my desk right now!

    1.  Geez… how big was the apartment such that you could fit 38 phone books in there without being noticed? ;)

  11. We have 3 different companies in our area generating 3 different editions of the White/Yellow Pages.  They all claim that the others are impostors, and they are the only legit White/Yellow Pages.  AFAIK, the only good thing about the books is that they temporarily give someone a job to distribute them, and they can be used to shore up wobbly things. I’ve used them maybe 3 times in the last year.

  12. Hmm, the link to the trading price doesn’t seem to be working.

    The trading price of the “Yellow Pages Income Fund” isn’t really the same as the company’s stock price and accordingly cannot be used to gauge the health of a company.  Right?  I mean, I vaguely recall that stock markets are full of wacky little things like “warrants” and such that trade at pennies.

    1. Google:  YLO.UN or YLO It’s the Canadian company so it’s under TSX.
      or just go to their main site:

  13. They don’t make money from you taking or leaving books, they make money from gullible people continuing to take ads in the book.

    Solution: convince people you know not to advertise with them.

    1. I’d phrase it slightly differently: they deliberately lie to and/or bullshit people about their circulation numbers in order to convince them to advertise in their book.

      Their customers may be gullible, but they themselves are guilty of propagating a dead business model with misinformation.


    2. you hit the nail on the head. revenues are driven by ads….they convince ppl to post ads based on (still high (but falsely so) circulation numbers….) its a vicious cycle

  14. Dear Kate,

    Since, at best, the person who is going to be reading this message is the delivery person who is probably not rolling in fat cat money be a little bit civil. If you have a gripe, photograph the stack and either send a letter or email with your photograph attached highlighting the same point.  Being rude to delivery drivers or other first-contact workers who are at the lowest rungs of the corporate ladder of the Yellow Pages dynasty is just tacky.

    Grow up.


    1. Don’t you think Kate is well aware of that? The whole idea was to have this photo show up in the internet. Besides, how the hell could the delivery guy even see the note? He will only be back ONE YEAR LATER.


      1. As a person who has lived in an apartment complex, there are often situations where the landlords or housing association need to contact the company that delivered unwanted free newspapers, menus, and phone books in order for them to be picked up. Kate should have addressed her letter to the landlord. In this case, it is possible that a delivery person would be enlisted to collect the phone books (believe it or not).

        I understand that the purpose of this photo was to show off to the internet and get whatever comment stroking she desired, but sometimes a person just needs to be an adult and take proper action against the system. She could’ve easily written the same letter to the Yellow Pages main office in her region, enclosed a photo of the stack of unwanted phone books, and posted the images on the internet.

        The difference between her way and my way is that my way would have had the advantage of, not only, getting on Boing Boing, but also actually crossing the desk of the people in the corporate office of whatever Yellow Pages, White Pages, or Yellow Book company that left those orphans on her door step. 

        1. Dear Sir/Madam,

          I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that sending the note to Marc Tellier directly would have been equally redundant and a waste of resources on my part. I’m sure Mr. Tellier is privy to negative publicity regarding YLO and that his public relations team are dutifully keeping him abreast of the social media scrutiny. Given the fact that the YLO PR team have actively replied to hundreds of posts regarding this note…I think its safe to assume Mr. Tellier is in the loop on this one. You might be interested to know my tacky note-posting tactic is working… 1)when I arrived at work in Vancouver last Monday the stack of books had vanished and in its place was a yellow post-it that read;”I totally agree and your note made my day, I’ll skip ur building next year – ”  and 2) the yellow pages media response team has posted opt-out instructions on over 35 blogs and in response to 30 tweets. If even 5 new people have learned about and implemented YLO opt-out program and 5 fewer books are printed next year, then my meagre efforts were worth it….and in that vein, sir (or madam), I would suggest, it is your note that is, in fact, the tacky one.


          1. Whether your method works or not, I still think your note lacks a serious amount of class and tact. If snark is going to be the first and only effective delivery system for handling protest in North America, count me out. Send a letter to Marc Tellier first (to an extent, I was giving you the benefit of doubt that you may have tried that first). If he fails to respond, post the note online. Your technique of writing a note to the delivery person is the equivalent of cussing out the door greeter at WalMart for the WalMart corporation’s third-world labor practices or yelling at the UPS delivery guy because the person who mailed the package enclosed the wrong product.

            It is mean.
            It is rude.
            It is entirely unnecessary.

            I have had to handle my share of client snark and rudeness from people who displace their aggression over the years. It is a shame that writing a civil letter or making a civil telephone call to corporate is increasingly being replaced with condescending, rude, mean, abusive, and/or threatening confrontations with people on the bottom rung of the corporate ladder.

            As a person who has openly attacked the music industry’s archaic practices for years, the last person I would take my aggression out on is the guy ringing up my sale at FYE.

      2. Thank you, Leo for your gallant defence. The funny part is…I did not even take the picture of the note!….someone else in my building did. I’m ashamed to say that before this week I’d never even heard of reddit or boing boing…..the power of social media is remarkable.

  15. I don’t need to hate YP, my landlord does that for me. He somehow knows when they are getting delivered and they all disappear into the back of his truck before days end and then redistributes them to  the  recycling center. 

  16. i’m stocking up on them and grab every copy i can find…  when the revolution begins and theres no more toilet paper, i’ll be trading sheets of the phone book for folks to wipe their arse with…  :?D

  17. I’m not normally the kind who calls for the eradication of an entire industry … but phone books need to disappear.  Wasteful for consumers, the businesses who pay for them, and the environment.  A product of the 20th Century that has seen its day and should now be put down–with mercy, like a crippled horse–and laid to rest once and for all.

  18. I should also mentioned, this company is the pits.  It’s business model is still back in the 1990s where telephone companies are beginning to sell services on the internet.  

    Few years back when it was a trust unit, people were buying them and stuffing them into their TFSA (a sort of Canadian tax shelter account).  The attraction at the time was the high yields it was giving.  All sorts of financial blogs were praising it.  It was strange to me, for I couldn’t figure out it’s business model–I can’t see it sustainable without drastic changes.  Now 3 years later, it’s still yields cut, price tanking faster then ever.  And those financial blogs?  I don’t see them up anymore.

    Still an investable company, provided you’re buying up it’s loans and treat’em like junk.

  19. as a small business owner I’ve cancelled my yp ad, as over the past year I got almost no business from it.  Also here in Vancouver they stopped distributing a book for the whole lower mainland and only each municipality now – which makes it even less useful. (But I have one under my monitor too!)    They also make it very difficult to cancel – you have a narrow window each year.  Several years ago their local competitor Canpages convinced me to advertise in them for a year. When It came time to renew – I didn’t bother – since I knew where all new customers came from and ZERO came from Canpages.  Canpages got bought by YP and just a couple of weeks ago shut down.    BUt to put it in perspective – for all the folks concerned about paper – the directory only comes out once a year.. compare that to all the local rags and  supermarket flyers that come out weekly – now that’s a lot more paper.

  20. It’s a fair point to make, but telling the delivery person won’t help much. Messages rarely trickle-up from the end of the chain to those making business decisions.
    Yellow Pages (and other phone book companies) know it’s a problem, yet they persist. In Melbourne, Australia, you can enter your details on a website to request they _don’t_ deliver a phone-book to your home…yet they ignore it!
    So, all that wood-pulp, minimum-wage delivery work, cost, and pollution from the tailpipe of delivery-trucks is for nothing. You toss the book in the recycling-bin, make a complaint, and repeat the process in 12 months.

  21. There is a misconception here – that printed material is bad, and wasteful of trees etc. But put it into perspective. (in 2008 US – 57% of paper is recycled – compared with electronic devices only 18% of 3 million tons recycled (after 5+  years most computers, phones, mp3 players et al are junk.) National safety council estimated 65 million computers disposed in 2005.  

     70% of toxic waste in US landfills is e-waste – also hazardous if it ends up in a 3rd world country.  Though paper comes primarily from trees – many are specifically planted for the purpose. USDA – 4 million trees planted daily in the US and 1.7 million by the wood & paper industries.  56% of the energy to make paper in the US comes from wood waste, and many paper mills such as NEWPAGE use wind.  Compare server farms, the annual growth of energy consumption is 24% (a server farm can use enough energy to power a small town).   Burning a cd or dvd = 300-350 grams of c02 per copy vs. printing a 100 page 4 colour annual report = 80 grams.   62 trillion spam emails each year = 2 billion gallons of gasoline (Mcafee Carbon Footprint of email)   Now a book can last hundreds of years compared with only a few years for e-devices.    

    And I’m not a Luddite, I’m a printer, and I love my smartphone, e-reader and computer -but lets put things in perspective.  Yes the model of Yellowpages and other printed directories is disappearing, but if you’re going to complain about paper waste – look at the supermarket flyers printed all the time…   Some printing is actually increasing – magazines are doing better then ever. Zappos the online marketer tried printing a hardcopy catalogue a couple of years back, sent them to customers and DOUBLED the average sale.

  22. On the next Seinfeld, “Kramer, I’ve been, uh, reading some of your material here. I gotta be
    honest with you: you make a pretty strong case. I mean, just imagine. An army of men in wool pants running through the neighborhood handing out pottery catalogs, door to door.”

  23. From an online story in 2008 :

    “But today, the Yellow Pages is a bit too ubiquitous for some, with phone books published annually in the U.S. outnumbering the population by two to one.

    While the $17 billion-a-year industry is showing remarkable resilience as other advertising-driven businesses suffer, it has become a familiar target in state legislatures, where lawmakers have tried — unsuccessfully, so far — to place limits on the distribution of phone

  24. In Sydney, Australia, am really pleased to report that after registering online to be a non-recipient of our local Yellow Pages, this year I received a slip confirming that I had unsubscribed, while my neighbours got Yellow Pages. Stoked!

  25. I once took a picture and made fun of AT&T via twitter for leaving tons of phone books by the mailboxes at my apartment. They took note and came to pick them up.

  26. Isn’t this considered littering? I mean if someone came and dropped paper waste all outside my door, I’d expect them to be hit with a littering fine…

  27. On a side note, Norway completely stopped distributing paper phone books in 2010, though I think there’s a separate yellow pages company around if you really want to buy one.

  28. You may not know it, but the Yellow Pages books are actually recycled from scrap pieces from  lumber companies.  This waste would otherwise go in to landfills.  At least it has an opportunity to pass through the cycle.  And, if you don’t want it, just recycle it!  It’s Canada after all, where everyone’s pretty eco.  

  29. I recognize those yellow pages and those advertisements.  Ha!  These are Vancouver yellow pages.  I have seen them piling up on my neighbours’ stoops.  A few years ago, I opted out and I no longer receive any yellow pages (forgot how I did it, but I am very happy for it).

  30. 1. Nobody wants a book of phone numbers. 
    2. Their business model is based on selling ads.
    3. They have massive print and distribution capability.
    So how does YP/Dex etc. continue a print-based business model?
    1. Find something to put in the books other than phone numbers.
    2. There are hundreds of really good web based comics that get little to no exposure.
    3. Many web comics creators might willingly allow select comics to be printed for free as long as they could promote their own sites, books and products along with their comics (also free for the creator)
    .4. Phone book company continues to sell ads on every page and distribute books, but now instead of phone books, they are giving away comic books.
    5. The top selling DC New 52 books were in the 200,000 range.  The phone book companies could crush that number by an order of magnitude.
    6. Good comics get deserved exposure even beyond most newspaper distribution or comic books at little cost to the creator, and the phone book companies get content to prop up their ads. Win/Win.
    7. Phone book company now distributes something that people might actually look at and enjoy, instead of immediately throwing away.

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