“…The luminaries of phone-book collecting [include] Gwillim Law, a computational linguist in [Chapel Hill,] North Carolina, who at one point possessed more than 3,500 outdated volumes. (He has since started selling them off.)
“Law was inspired to begin his collection by an interest in cover art…. He continued collecting because ‘I just enjoyed the possibilities for looking things up…..At one point, I did a study of what fast-food chains there were in Connecticut by looking at all of the Yellow Pages.’ ”
– From a Talk of the Town item in The New Yorker, September 13, 2010
Phone-book collecting actually ranks among the more conventional of Gwillim Law’s many pursuits. He is, for instance, the father of statoids — that is, “major administrative divisions of countries.”
This entry from Law’s “Infrequently Asked Questions” page suggests his preoccupation with the concept:
Q. Are there any statoids whose names are palindromes?
A. Yes, there are eight…. Hajjah, Yemen; Karak, Jordan; Matam, Senegal (the latest addition); Nan, Thailand; Neuquén, Argentina; Oio, Guinea-Bissau; Oruro, Bolivia; and Oyo, Nigeria.