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Searching for the cure to Zombie Paper

Being in the electronic document world, I over analyze everyday paper processes.  While some paper processes try to change, you just can’t seem to kill others.  Here’re some paper zombies that just won’t seem to die.

Direct (Junk) Mailers

The US Postal Service is constantly threatening us.  In February 2013, the U.S. Postal Service was going to stop Saturday delivery.  It was costing them too much money and would save them $2B a year to drop Saturday service.  By April 2013, it announced it was delaying that and put the blame on Congress.  Then in November 2013, it announced it was adding Sunday DeliveryCan Amazon shipments really be worth all the extra money they’re spending?

It’s incredible to think that one of the 3,600 residents of Pago Pago, American Samoa, could send a post card to one of the 115 residents of Little Diomede Island, Alaska, for $0.34.  It costs $1.15 to send a post card from the U.S. to Argentina.  To send a postcard back from Argentina costs $4.50.

The Postal Service is part of the Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution.  So while it can’t make a profit, it needs to be self-sufficient.  So how does it make its money?

Ads pay to keep the postal service running.  All those direct mail pieces and catalogs in your mailbox are what keep the postal service inexpensive.   Because junk mail keeps the lights on, the U.S. Postal Services is always looking to make it easier, and cheaper, for junk mail to reach your mailbox.  It also fills up landfills and causes communities to push for bans, so the Direct Mail Association has created a way for us to opt out.  (Does it work?  Not really.)


We’ve all seen it in the westerns series, like HBO’s Deadwood and AMC’s Hell on Wheels.  The newspaper is what kept the west, and the world, informed.   Today news comes from the internet and  newspapers are trying to reinvent themselves.  They still thrive in small towns and I live on the cusp.

We cancelled the paper back in 2009, for the first time, when the above the fold cover story was “Scripps partners with Yahoo! in new online advertising program.”  The next most significate news story of the day was the White House vegetable garden.  Still, how does the newspaper justify its own advertising program as the headline?

When our paper promised “fresh local journalism every week” a few years back, we gave it a try again.  After a couple of interesting stories, it went back to being ad revenue focused.

Phone Books

In the middle of winter I find a little package on my driveway, a phone book.  If I lived up north, I’d use these to start a cozy fire in the fireplace.  Instead I just throw them into the recycling bin.  The National Association on Yellow Pages does have an opt-out page.  I just wonder if it covers all three different phone books that get thrown in my driveway.

With internet search tools to get me any phone number, why do phone books still exist?


Wait!  I just realized what the zombie paper is trying to say, “Urrr, Ads! Ads! Ads!”

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