Part of me doesn’t want to write this article. I make money with public domain books. A good amount of money. In fact, I don’t know if I ever would have started my business without it. It certainly wouldn’t have the success it’s had without it. So that part of me is worried Ill be creating more competition for myself.
But the truth is the public domain works are out there, literally free for the taking. I have 6 different products that regularly sell (some better then others) that are either completely based on public domain works or at least in part.
Then I have a growing side business in releasing many, many more books on Amazon as I talked about here.
What is Public Domain?
Public domain refers to any work that is without copyright. In most cases, this is for old works, in which the copyright has expired. But there are other ways information can enter the public domain, such as works prepared by the government and any work the the author or creator hands over freely to the public domain.
Just looking that the word you can see what it means. It means that thing is in the domain of the public, basically meaning you, as part of the public, can use it freely however you choose.
Everything I’ve done is with old books. There is music and even some movies in this area, but that’s not my specialty. As an information marketer, I’m looking for how-to information that other people will be interested.
If it’s Free Shouldn’t it Remain So?
Not necessarily. For instance my first ever product was a public domain book on hand balancing. Sure I could have just scanned and released it for free online. But I firmly I believe I’d be doing people a disservice to do so. Why is that?
People do not value what they don’t pay for.
So by charging any amount of money they take value in it and are more likely to actually use it.
Not to mention the money and time I sunk into the project. I had to buy the book myself (paying more for the original then I charge people). I had to pay to create a website before I knew how to do it myself. I had to spend endless time re-formatting and editing the book (as the original was atrocious). I had to pay lawyer fees to make sure the book was in the public domain.
Since I had spent money and time on this why shouldn’t I re-coup my investment and then some. Further these public domain works have allowed me to work on other projects that in turn help even more people.
How to Make Money with Public Domain
If you have a book it can be as simple as selling it, either in hard copy or as an ebook. Scan the pages then create a PDF or get it self-published. This is truly the easiest product creation possible.
Of course the success of this depends on the information within the book, it’s rarity (if everyone else is selling it or giving it away you don’t have something unique), and how you market it.
In cases where something is common you can add to it and make it better and make it yours. For instance I took classic books on the art of muscle control, which can easily be found free online, and then filmed video’s based on the exercises found within.
Even with the book you can add material or pictures and make it better the the original.
Even if you don’t sell the product there are endless other ways you can use it. Need content for your blog? Need a free gift to incentivize people to signup?
I’m not an attorney and I certainly can’t speak for other countries at all. (Interestingly I was talking to a man about partnering in a Russian translation of work, and found out their copyright laws are very different from the US.)
Although the original will remain in the public domain and can be used by others however they see fit, your work and whatever changes you make will be owned by you. Even if you don’t change anything in the book itself, just the format, that is owned by you.
There is much more to public domain then I’ve covered here. Make sure you sign up on here to receive a number of free reports, one of which will give you more details on how to properly use public domain works.