After a sharp and relatively sudden decline, JCPenney's phone-book-sized, twice-annual Big Book catalog is history.
The current fall/winter edition will be the last since Penney's got in the business 46 years ago. In the last 10 years, the page count dropped from 1,500 to 900 and distribution from 14 million to 9 million as 40 percent of the company's mail order transactions and $1 billlion in sales shifted to jcp.com on the Internet.
Penney officials, who will continue publishing small mail order catalogs for specific audiences, termed the book "obsolete." That's because it required its own buying staff, meant locking in prices months in advance and still didn't carry everything that was in stores, much less all 250,000 items sold online.
Eliminating the book will cut the company's overall paper use by 30 percent. Sears retired its big book catalog in 1993.