Monday, July 27, 2015

Hard copy - because it's hard to read

A lot of people went to the movie "The Jerk" believing it to be a biography of Mel Gibson, but at least they got to see Steve Martin running 'round hollering, "The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here!

I mean, really.
There was a time that people wanted, liked, and needed the phone book from the phone company, that compendium of people's names and addresses and phone numbers printed in a volume the size of your Aunt Tilly's sofa cushion that you sat on while wondering who would ever buy, let alone eat, that crazy hard candy seen only in old people's houses.

But we're talking about phone books here, not hard candy. The phone companies still print them, and most people toss them in the recycling bin about 15 seconds after bringing them in from the doorstep where some pixie dropped them off before scampering off as only a pixie can.

People with those cell phones have all their friends' numbers in their Contacts, and when they need the name of a new pizzeria or drywall contractor, they just Google the thing and off they go.

But there's a commotion brewing in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada.  I heard about this on the Canadian radio news show "Here and Now," which I listen to on NPR late at night after the Orioles have rendered me sad and sobbing.

The new 2015 phone book came out, and the book itself is smaller, and the font they used to print it is smaller, and guess which segment of the population uses phone books?  Those in the upper age demographic.

What else do we know about people in that age bracket, which is to say, my age bracket?

They can't see little tiny print!

Beverly Joseph, of River Ryan, pictured here, doesn't like the new little book and she says the print size of the listings is too teeny.

"You can't read it. You need a magnifying glass," she said. "People that don't have eye problems are going to have eye problems. They cut the book down to a child size."

Someone up there contacted the phone company, and their spokesperson, Fiona Story, said they have been changing the format of their phone books all across Our Neighbor To The North for several years now.

"These changes are permanent,* however, the directory does continue to evolve with the introduction of new covers and increasingly localized content and neighbourhood information," wrote Story. "Many of these changes were made based on user feedback and research, aligned with our efforts to ensure we’re meeting the needs of print directory users while making sure we’re being efficient in our use of recycled paper resources."

She said all this in an email that she probably sent in "normal" size font.  She went on to say that most of the phone listing business up there is now digital, and "Print, however, remains a part of our product offering as it continues to address specific needs of both users and businesses alike."

Wow.  They even employ that Business Speak up in Canada!

My free suggestion to the Canadian phone company?  Free magnifying glasses with every phone book!

* - "These changes are permanent" means "We saved a nickel and we're not about to go back to a comfortable font, so tough noogies."

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