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Less is more – The compact BT Phone Book


BT is reducing the size of the Phone Book so it will fit into letter boxes and save 2,000 tonnes of paper each year.

The shape of the new BT Phone Book will be 15 per cent smaller, saving paper equivalent to the weight of 2,666 traditional red phone boxes or almost as much as the wheel and all the capsules of the London Eye. All old copies of the Phone Book are 100 per cent recyclable and since January 2010 have been produced using 100 per cent recycled paper.

BT is keeping the Phone Book the same height, but reducing the width by 31mm to 172mm, which means it will be small enough to fit into standard size household and business letterboxes. The first edition of the compact book will be the Havering in Essex edition in July this year.

Despite its compact size, the new Phone Book contains several additional features, including a section with cut out coupons so consumers can save money with advertisers in The Phone Book, menu guides in the classified restaurant section as well as guides for hair and beauty, leisure, sport and tourism.

In the face of increasing competition from the internet, printed phone books are proving to be an enduringly popular way for people to find the phone numbers they want, according to new research published by BT. The research shows that a massive 91 per cent of people found what they were looking for in the BT Phone Book and 84 per cent used the number they found to make a call.

Many people still consider the Phone Book to be essential - 41 per cent say they would not have made their call without it and eight out of ten say they have an up-to-date copy of the BT Phone Book at home.

The BT Phone Book continues to be the only three-in-one directory in the UK with a Classified Business Section and Business and Residential A-Z listings. BT produces 168 geographic editions of the book every year.

Many people believe small businesses to be the lifeblood of the UK economy and it can also be argued that phone books are the lifeblood of small businesses. Around two million businesses depend on their listings in telephone directories to attract customers. Looking up a business is the most popular reason to use the Phone Book with 88 per cent of consumers visiting the Business A-Z and 80 per cent looking in the Business classified ads recently. Three quarters of us use the book to look up residential numbers.

David Benjamin, CEO, BT Directories, said: “If you listened to some people, you’d think that nobody wanted phone books, when in fact the opposite is true. Our research shows that people still really value the Phone Book and will welcome the new compact paper-saving size.

“The Phone Book is the best way to find a local business whether you want a taxi, a shop, a plumber, a garage or a builder. And local businesses know that advertising in the Phone Book is a powerful way to reach their potential customers.”

Unsurprisingly people without internet access rely on the Phone Book even more. The Government estimates this to be about 12 million people. BT supports and sponsors many schemes to encourage digital inclusion, such as Silver Surfer grants and social networking and the Age UK Digital Inclusion Network, but older people remain the largest group offline with 64 per cent of those aged over 65 having never been online.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, said: “While we celebrate the achievements of older people who’ve successfully learnt to use the internet, it mustn’t be forgotten that telephone directories are valued and absolutely essential for people who are not online, including many of the 6.4 million people in later life who have never used the internet.”

The earliest directory in the UK dates from 1880. It was produced by The Telephone Company, which was formed in 1878 and controlled Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone patent in the UK. The directory is just five pages long. It only covers London and there are no numbers given in the directory, as subscribers to the service would have simply phoned the operator and asked to be put through. BT introduced classified advertising into the Phone Book in 2003.


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