Around this time of year, the latest editions of the Yellow Pages and Yellow Book directories begin landing on your doorstep with a thud.
Some South Floridians toss the wrapped books in the recycling bins or shelf them on refrigerator tops or kitchen counters. For others, the books remain go-to resources of listings even as consumers flock to smartphones and cut their landline service.
But the printed books, which have slimmed down over the years, haven't outlived their usefulness; they've evolved with mobile apps and websites to help people find a local plumber or locksmith, industry officials say.
"We get slightly more usage in the south area than in some of the other markets,'' said Neg Norton, president of the Local Search Association, a trade group. He noted that the typical phone book user is at least 45 years old, college educated and earns between $25,000 to $100,000.
"It does still tend to skew a little older. A lot of times what initiates usage of a directory is an emergency situation or life event. We still get quite a bit of usage from young, married couples, starting families and moving and they have these events in their lives where they have to buy stuff where they don't know where to buy."
One national survey that was released in 2011 by research firm Burke Inc., found that 74 percent of US consumers said they had used the print version of the Yellow Pages to locate a local business. The number was 17 percent higher than people said they used the online version of Yellow Pages, know called YP. That same study found that the most popular categories by use among consumers were restaurants, physicians, auto repair shops, beauty salons and pizza places.
Yellow Book recently delivered its latest edition of its Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach directory and will distribute its West Palm Beach directories this June and Coral Springs version beginning in July. Meanwhile, YP will distribute in Boca beginning in March and then Fort Lauderdale in April.
A representative for YP wouldn't reveal how many copies of the printed book were being distributed in South Florida this year but she underscored its importance among consumers. She noted that one study found that 66 percent of Boca Raton residents used the YP phone book in the past year.
"They provide valuable information about local businesses in the community at the most critical time — when the consumer is ready to buy,'' she wrote in an email, adding that the books "help consumers find what they're looking for quickly."
Formerly called the Yellow Pages by AT & T Interactive and AT&T Advertising Solutions, the company became known as YP in May 2012 with its flagship website YP.com. The site includes a Local Search and Gas Prices app to help mobile consumers decide where to eat, shop and find home improvement searches.
"On average, each second, there are more than three calls to a local business via the YP app, generating real leads," added the spokeswoman.
While residents use the online directory or the phone books in their searches, not everyone wants the printed product.
Those folks can opt out of future deliveries by visiting http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com
Still, he believes there's a market out there for the printed books for folks like his mother, who is in her late 70s.
"I think it's just like a legacy thing. The same demographic that is hanging onto their landline is the same demographic that might want to continue to get the Yellow Pages. I know that if my mom stopped get it, she would say 'where is my Yellow Pages?"
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