I noticed a small addition to the Gmail Whats New page in the past day or so that points out that its now VERY easy to export your Gmail contacts list offline (its always good to have a backup) or to use with another email reader. Simply login to your Gmail account, click your Contacts list (left column) and then look for the Export link located on the right side of the page. Your contact list is made available as a .CSV file. Additional instructions and info can be found here.
February 6, 2016