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SOUTHLAND BUSINESS

Fingers Will Run in New Yellow Pages

August 02, 1987|BRUCE KEPPEL

Pacific Bell is speeding up its Yellow Pages motto to "Let your fingers do the running " to characterize a new generation of directory it will inaugurate in Los Angeles starting Tuesday.

By the end of the month, 3.3 million newly designed and newly named "Smart" Yellow Pages will be delivered in what the company calls the largest single distribution of directories ever. A convoy of 640 trucks are hauling the directories from the print shop in Merced to 10 warehouses in the Los Angeles area--the staging areas for the month-long distribution.

The "Smart" directories--the name and format is copyrighted--are making their debut in the huge Los Angeles market. In September, the San Francisco edition will be distributed. And by the end of next year, 29 million of the new-style books will have been distributed in 96 different editions covering Pacific Bell's service areas in most of California and parts of Nevada.

So what's so Smart about the new directories?

Pacific Bell Directory, the wholly owned subsidiary of Pacific Bell, turned to Richard Saul Wurman, a New York architect, cartographer and graphic designer who says he has a "compulsion to order chaos." Wurman is founder and president of Access Press, a publisher of city guides. His job was to give the Pacific Bell Yellow Pages their first face lift since ads were introduced in 1907.

"The product has just got bigger and bigger but not really different," said John R. Gaulding, president of Pacific Bell Directory.

The new directories use more graphics and bolder typography in grouping businesses and services within broad categories, he explained. "Let's say you have a boat and want to have its cushions reupholstered," Gaulding suggested. "Where would you begin to look? Under the Smart Yellow Pages you would just turn to Boating ."

Edward F. West, vice president for marketing, said, "The Smart directory is to Yellow Pages what a thesaurus is to a dictionary: Each entry takes you to a lot of related places."

The new directories also include "community access sections" containing information relevant to the areas served--such as location of airports, shopping areas, and freeways and streets--along with location maps to help pinpoint destinations. Diagrams also depict seating arrangements at theaters, arenas and stadiums.

Each Pacific Bell customer in Los Angeles will receive a plastic shopping bag containing "a family" of three directories, West said, composed of the newly designed Yellow Pages and White Pages directories for central Los Angeles and a smaller directory based on shopping patterns in the customer's neighborhood. They also include indexes in five languages--English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Tagalog, which is spoken in the Philippines.

In contrast to present phone books, the new Yellow Pages sometimes overlap into the local telephone area served by General Telephone of California, depending on regional shopping patterns.

Competition by other directory publishers prodded a reluctant Pacific Bell into investing $1.5 million in the redesign project, Gaulding acknowledged. In all, 432 directories were published in the state last year, each one carving up the state differently and leading to a good deal of confusion among consumers and advertisers.

"The confusion in the marketplace is our fault," he said, "because in the past we lacked responsiveness to consumers' needs." Predicted West: "This family of directories will give you everything you need to know about Los Angeles."

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