End of an era for Yellow Pages, following 51 years of print

End of an era for the Yellow Pages Directory - Office Phone Shop

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The household telephone directory to cease being a publication in January 2019

Once an essential part of every household, Yellow Pages owner, Yell says it will stop printing from January 2019, moving to a fully digitised version only.

The 23m copies of the final edition will no doubt become end-of-an-era souvenirs to many. Yell says it will distribute the first of the 104 final editions in Kingston in January 2018, with the last sent out a year later in Brighton, where the directory was first published in 1966.

Richard Hanscott, CEO of Yell said: “After 51 years in production Yellow Pages is a household name and we’re proud to say that we still have customers who’ve been with us from the very first Yellow Pages edition in 1966. How many brands can say they’ve had customers with them for over 50 years?”

Once a vital tool for locating services, tradespeople and landline numbers, the Yellow Pages was a vital addition to many households. The publication also enjoyed fame for its much-loved adverts. These included the “JR Hartley” campaign in the 1980s and the “French Polisher”.

With the rise of social media and Google, demand for the directory has declined over the years. In addition, environmental concerns prompted the launch of the ‘Say No to Phonebooks’ campaign in 2009, which called for an “opt-in” scheme whereby only those who want these directories left by their door would receive them.

Now Yell feels the time has come to say goodbye. However, still aspiring to help businesses, Yell are offering a free listing to businesses on yell.com.

“Like many businesses, Yell has found that succeeding in digital demands constant change and innovation,” Hanscott continued. “We’re well placed to continue to help local businesses and consumers be successful online, both now and in the future.”

The Yellow Pages telephone directory came about in 1883 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, when a printer producing a directory ran out of white paper and used yellow instead. The first Yellow Pages publication was formed three years later.

In the UK, the Post Office first launched the directory in 1966. It later became part of British Telecom and when BT was privatised in the mid 1980’s, this saw the launch of the Business Pages, followed by a series of adverts.

The first electronic version came about in 1987 alongside Talking Pages. Then with the rise of the internet, Yell launched yell.co.uk in 1996, offering transactions on the site a year later.

BT sold the Yellow Pages for £2.1bn in 2001 to private equity companies, subsequently launching a new telephone service and bringing the number of Yellow Pages published to 102.

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