Public Domain Books – Reuse Them for Profit

Books in the public domain are not covered by copyright. This means that you may freely use the text in these books without permission.

Read an explanation of how works enter the public domain.

When you find a work that you believe is in the public domain, take steps to verify its status. Read an overview of what is required to investigate the public domain status of a work.

So you found a work that is in the public domain–now what do you do with it? Here are some suggestions on how to profitably use a public domain work.

Reprint the entire manuscript as a book. Or group it with other public domain works.

Make it an ebook. Put the book in a PDF file, then sell it from your Web site or give it away as a viral marketing tool. For example, give it away when someone subscribes to your email list.

Make changes to the work before publishing it. Instead of republishing the original book, make revisions by adding sections, updating information and language, offering commentary, etc.

Incorporate sections of the public domain work into your work. Include quotations or other material from the public domain in books, articles and other writings.

Convert the public domain work into another form, such as turning a novel into a play or movie script.

Put content from the book on your Web site. Create pages with several hundred words from the original work, and monetize them with Google AdSense, affiliate links or other advertising.

Use public domain content in the articles you write for your Web site, newsletters and article directories.

Record the public domain work and make it available as an MP3 download or on CD.

Books in the public domain may be used as you wish, without permission and without paying royalties to the original authors. However, when using public domain works, be aware of these issues:

Research carefully to verify that the work is in the public domain. The status is not always clear.

Photographs and illustrations in the original book may not be in the public domain, even if the text is.

Although you are not required to credit the original author, it is wise to do so. Representing something as your own original work may cause readers to question your integrity when they discover it was written by someone else. Give credit to the original author.

Additional Public Domain Information

As the IdeaLady, Cathy Stucker helps authors, entrepreneurs and professionals attract customers and make themselves famous with creative techniques that make marketing easy, inexpensive and even fun! Get free tips on marketing, publishing and more at