The Phone Book Is Shrinking
We’ve known this trend was happening – people dropping their land lines in favor of cell phones – but it’s now happening so fast that the phone book may soon become a relic of the past.
The recently released local phone book, which has shrunk a half-inch vertically and horizontally from previous years, has 58 pages of residential listings. A year ago, pages numbered 64. Two years ago, it was at 70.
With more than 200 names per page, that’s a lot of phones being ripped off household walls.
Carrie Amann, a spokesperson for CenturyLink, which formerly was Qwest, said the number of land lines in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks have fallen 12 percent in the last 12 months. She said she doesn’t have statistics dating back further.
This is the creative destruction of the free market at work. The convenience of a land line has been supplanted by the greater convenience of the cell phone. A family able to communicate with every other member of the family whenever they want, and wherever they are, is a huge convenience. And when you buy into that convenience, a land line becomes extraneous. People stop calling it once they have your cell phone number, and then it becomes unnecessary.
We dropped our land line years ago and haven’t regretted it. I wonder how many generations it will take before younger Americans don’t even recognize what a phone book is? I wonder if a phone, attached to a wall in the home, will look as strange to them as the old crank-and-candlestick phones look to us today?
That’s how free markets work. Old ways of doing things are replaced with new and better ways of doing things. Which is what frustrates me about the demise of the incandescent light bulb. That invention, much like the telephone, was revolutionary in how it changed our lives. And yet, unlike the land line telephone, the incandescent light bulb isn’t being driven out of the market by something better. It is being pushed out of the market by regulations put in place by politicians who think other sorts of bulbs (LED and CFL bulbs, etc.) are better.
The demise of the land line, and the phone book, are acceptable. That’s a choice we’re making individually. The demise of the light bulb is unacceptable, because it has nothing to do with our choice.Tags: cell phones, free markets, Light Bulbs, telephones