The Public Domain is great to create products from so many media categories and category combinations. Sell them as printed books, magazines, photographs, audio recordings, software, eBooks, films, audio tapes, video recordings, sheet music and more. You have the option to sell the products in combinations, like a printed book with CD, eBook with membership site, and more.
Let us look at just a few ways to turn Public Domain creative works into
physical and digital products. While reading this article please take time to find ways to offer unique options. The best bet is to create unique content and turn the public domain content into your own exclusive products! You can even turn this content into blog-posts, articles for publication and all kinds of products for a premium content business website.
A simple way to monetize this content is to reprint text and illustrations ‘as is’, in print format, without making any changes. This is easy enough to do by getting a physical version of any original document, report or book, and then scan or photocopy the information to create the desired number of copies to resell. This is the fastest and easiest way to recreate and sell public domain works.
It really doesn’t take much effort to make a few simple changes to text or layout, or illustrations and pagination. These few changes take very little time but they are the key to determining your ownership rights to the book. This is because with those few changes; enough to make the item recognizably different from the public domain original, the new item becomes what’s known as a ‘derivative’ work and its creator is fully protected under copyright law. This means, if anyone copies your version of the product, they can be sued for damages, they would owe you for using your work.
Here is another thing to keep in mind, if you take a book from the public domain and turn it into shorter reports, or short stories without making changes to the text, your product is again a derivative and becomes your sole copyright.
Reprint the text and illustrations ‘as is’ and convert them into a downloadable format. This involves laying out the pages as they were in the original format, by scanning, or by re-keying an exact copy of the document. You will then turn the document into PDF or other eBook format. This change from print to digital copy is enough to make your product a copyright protected derivative work.
The issue here, is that it would be impossible to know if someone selling an identical digital item has copied your work or created their own product from scratch just as you did. So, it would be wise to at least make a few changes, like designing your own front cover, or use a different font, add a few illustrations, create a table of contents sheet or index section where there wasn’t one before.
Another great thing is that some of the biggest public domain resource sites provide public domain works as ready to download text. So all you have to do is go to a site like Gutenberg, which is most people’s favorite — select your title, download and add the text to a newly opened ‘Word’ document. Choose your own font and size, re-paginate the text so that all chapters begin on a new page, and so on.
Change your ‘Word’ document into PDF format using one of several
free and low cost software programs. If you have the latest version of Microsoft Word you simply save the word document as a PDF by choosing the option “save as”. Find them by searching google.com for ‘PDF + creator + free’ . Recreate the text ‘as is’, in ‘Word’, PDF and then burn your eBooks onto CD. This makes it easier for potential buyers who want your books but are unfamiliar with downloading or have a slow connection or who simply prefer physical media.
It’s always a good idea to provide as many product formats as possible and to optimize your marketing potential. You’ll also find that on eBay, buyers think they know how to download digital products, but later find they can’t. So, prepare for these moments by having physical copies ready to ease their temper. Otherwise get ready for them to take out their temper on you and give you negative feedback. Sellers of downloadable products can avoid this common scenario by informing buyers that a CD will be sent shortly after they access their download links.
The Public Domain can be sold singly as
In a future post we will look at just a few ways to turn Public Domain creative works into physical and digital products. Join our mailing list to be the first to know when we have a new post.