Regulation of the Day 173: Yellow Pages

It’s creative destruction in action. San Francisco is phasing out the distribution of hard-copy Yellow Pages. About 1.6 million of the doorstops are delivered to San Francisco homes every year. Most people no longer use them. Between, Google, Craigslist, and other online tools, consumers now have better options for finding what they need.

Next week, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors will hold a vote to ban delivery of hard-copy Yellow Pages to anyone who doesn’t specifically request one.

This issue doesn’t really need a regulatory solution, though. The books depend on ad sales to be profitable. As people use them less and less, advertisers become more reluctant to pay for ads. When revenues drop enough, it will no longer be worthwhile to print hard copies. This transition will happen just fine on its own.