1) Republish a public domain book
You can republish a public domain book as is. You can either physically print
it or offer it in electronic format. If you offer the book in electronic format,
packaging it as a PDF file – or broken up into an online course – is a great way to go. You can use it as blog content if you need a simpler way to reuse the public domain content.
If you choose to offer a printed book, you have a few options. You can print it
yourself on demand and use inexpensive binding equipment (spiral binding) that
you can buy from any office supply store to make a professional looking book.
You can go to a local printer and do very short runs of the book. They will even
do the binding for you. It will typically be spiral bound at such low volume
runs as it is quite cost effective when producing a few dozen at a time.
You can approach a specialty printing company and get a larger quantity printed
in any type of binding you want. This is the most cost effective way but you
have to be ready to purchase and inventory a large number of books to make it
worthwhile. The last time we did this, the efficiency point was 1000 books but
this was back in 1995 and there are more options available nowadays.
Did you know that there is a website that has public domain audio-books that
you can download and use as you wish? In fact, as of June 2008, they reached
1,500 books in their catalog of audio-book downloads. There is no cost to use
this amazing service. You can learn more about this project at http://librivox.org. Also, don’t think you are limited to what is on the Librivox site. Any book in the public domain can be turned into an audio version, packaged and sold to interested customers.
3) Stock photograph collections
Creative people of all types are always looking for additional royalty free
stock photo collections that they can use for projects. With literally millions
of photographs in the public domain, you could gather themed groups of
photographs and offer them as stock photograph collections to interested
You could package these in a variety of ways. The simplest way is to put them on
CDs or DVDs and sell them in that format. But you could also offer a digital
download site where people pay for each photograph that they download or a
membership site where they pay a one time or monthly fee to access all the
photographs in the collection.
4) Clip art collections
Clip art is basically line art or simple drawings. As with the stock photograph collections above, clip art collections are very popular and can be delivered in a variety of ways. A great example of using public domain clip art (or really any public domain material) in printed books is Dover Publications. They have a huge catalog of books – republished public domain works and compilations of public domain materials.
Prints is a very large area of the public domain and with modern printing equipment, you can actually run a highly profitable print shop from your house. Prints can come in all sizes – anything from postcard size to huge posters – and can be offered on a variety of papers and materials – even canvas or t-shirts and hats.
So what can be printed? The list is almost endless. You could print civil war
photographs, old maps NASA space mission images, Military images, fine art posters. You can even combine elements of images and build your own unique images for printing – like a series of motivational posters with moving scenes and motivational quotes across the top of the poster.
Every year people buy millions of calendars with a huge variety of styles and images. Why not take some of the public domain photos or artwork you have access to and design and sell a calendar to a specific niche? For instance, you could make a WWII D-Day calendar with photos of events related to D-Day with descriptive captions below it. Or a generic motivational calendar with the photos and captions of the most famous quotes and blurbs in the various date boxes. You can create a calendar with spaces to add goals and action plans with completion dates?
There are a variety of cards that can be made of public domain images. These include postcards, playing cards, flash cards, motivational cards, time management cards etc.
The key to success in the card business is again to theme the cards to an
interest that you identified. For instance, the Library of Congress has a great
collection of baseball cards from around 1900 online. An enterprising person
could use them to make decks of playing cards and market them during baseball season. Lots of folks who like baseball play cards and would be thrilled to have such a unique pack of cards to enjoy while playing their game.
Or maybe you could republish the cards as a limited collectors set. Or use them as the basis of an early baseball trivia game. Or a set of postcards. As you can
see, there are a number of ways you can use cards with public domain images to
make interesting products.
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