They're big, they're heavy and they take up a lot of space near your phone. If you still even have a land line.

And in the Internet age, with Aunt Martha's phone number at your Googling fingertips, those weighty space-eaters known as phone books seem like un-green antiques every time they arrive unsolicited.

"It's a waste," says Gerik Kransky, chair of building environmental communities at the Sierra Club. "It should be illegal to leave that much paper on someone's doorstep without asking permission."

The phone books, which got delivered to our doorsteps last month, do have their defenders. Jim Long, a longtime local advocate for the community-pages section known as the Blue Pages, says the phone book remains just as necessary—and useful—as in the pre-Google age. Long says easy access to the Blue Pages' listings related to civic government, public transportation, regional maps and other public entities are "important for the free flow of information."

"The phone book is a tool for democracy," Long says.

Long and Peter Larmey, manager of external communications at R.H. Donnelley, the company that publishes Dex directory, both note that older people aren't as Internet-savvy as younger generations and are more likely to use phone books.

OK. But here are some other numbers to consider from the recent Dex delivery sure to make you dial Aunt Martha:

How many phone books in one delivery: 3

How many pages in the three phone books: 4,527

Weight of all three when stacked: 6 inches

How much all three weigh: 10.5 lbs.

The number of Qwest Dex customers in Multnomah County: about 126,455

The total number of phone books delivered last year in Multnomah County: 379,365

The number of trees this is equivalent to, according to Portland State University's "recycling facts" website ( 49,779

These phone books would stretch for: 11.97 miles


The distance of 11.97 miles is roughly Pioneer Courthouse Square to the Sauvie Island wildlife area.