When your Fingers Stumble Through the Pages

On the whole, there are two positive things about this year’s edition of NorthwesTel’s Northern

British Columbia and Yukon Directory.

The first is that the painting on the front cover, the dramatic “Blue Break Up” by Simon James Gilpin, is reproduced in a larger size than in previous directories.

The second is that because the vinyl protective covers we’ve been using for years won’t fit on this book, we’ll all get to appreciate the painting many more times than in past years.

In most other ways, the book is distinctly smaller than it’s ever been, smaller even than the Can Pages book that tried to compete with it for a few years.

The old book was 26.5 cm tall, 21.5 wide, rough ly 3/4 cm thick, and 196 pages long, not counting the covers. The new book is 22 cm tall, 17.75 wide, 1.75 cm thick, and has 326 pages, not counting the covers.

It’s interesting that the book is so much thicker, especially when you look at the size and leading (space between the lines) of the print. Both are noticeably smaller than the old books, and this is clear even to people who, unlike me, don’t spend much time looking at fonts and making layout decisions.

Other people have told me that some of the design changes that bothered me irked them as well. The old book used a sort of dictionary-style for page headings, with left and right page headers that told you names running from Langlais to Lindsey could be found on a given page. At about the middle of the top of the page was the name of the town these people were listed in, and that name was repeated in the bottom outside margins of each page.

This last thing is actually a feature I had never noticed before, because I had never needed to. The current layout has eliminated the traditional top-of-page information about places and has left only the side margin notations. It seems to me to be a clumsy way of arranging the information.

I noticed all of this stuff over a month ago, and nearly wrote this column then, but I cooled down from my initial dissatisfaction and moved on to other topics.

This evening, I was at a birthday dinner with a group of friends and the topic of the new phone book arose. This group spent half an hour critiquing the current edition of the book, hitting every single point that I’ve mentioned in this column. Sure, I was part of the discussion, but I was mostly agreeing with what I was hearing others saying, while marvelling that this group of people was so united in their dislike of this year’s phone company offering.

If you find any of this information strikes a chord for you, why not let the company know about it. Maybe next year they can bind a fl exible magnifying page between the same covers.

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