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Start Your Own Publishing Business With Public Domain Books

Written by Gary North on November 21, 2015

If a book was published in the United States before 1923, it is in the public domain. You can use it to create high-value products.

Here is an example. Years ago, I told my friend Byron Reese about Ray’s Arithmetic. Joseph Ray was a 19th-century educator. His book on arithmetic was published before the first McGuffey reader. In fact, it was the model for McGuffey’s famous readers. Ray and McGuffey were friends. You can read about Ray. Click here. Ray published dozens of books for schools: full courses.

All of them are in the public domain. They are free to use. With respect to the legality of this, click on these links:

Stanford University
Cornell University

Bryon went out and made PDF copies of these books. That was a lot of work and money. He put them on a CD-ROM. But then he decided not to sell this CD-ROM. He later gave a copy of his CD-ROM to a man, who in turn gave it to his son. His son has created a site that sells these PDFs. You can see his site here:

You could do the same thing. Why don’t you?

If you have a homeschool age child, your child could start a nice little side business. Why not?

Did you know that some colleges grant college credit for business-related projects? If you can show that your project involved learning the equivalent of a college-level course, the college will grant three semester credit hours. Have your child keep a detailed diary of every step in the process of setting up a Web business. A book publishing business would be ideal.

You can download images of any pre-1923 books that are posted online. Alternatively, does someone sell a CD-ROM with such images? Buy it. Use the images in any way you choose. Or maybe he sells you access to these images. Pay him, download the images, and then use them for your own publishing business. The images are yours to use any way you like, just as he is using them. You could create a homeschool site with them.

Dover Books has been doing this for decades. It has created a highly successful publishing firm with public domain books.

But couldn’t someone do this to you? Couldn’t he download the images you post, and use them to sell to others? Of course. You cannot establish a property right to a public domain image. But most people don’t know about public domain law, or PDF-creation, or setting up a Web-based publishing business.

You are allowed to put a watermark on an image. Google does this. You cannot keep someone from using the image, but it’s a lot of work to get rid of your watermark. He is then forced to promote your product by reproducing the image with your watermark. He probably won’t do this.

This is how to stop someone else from using the public domain images that you post. Because of your watermark, you can then imitate the title of Abbie Hoffman’s famous 1971 book: Steal This Book. Please!

Of course, if you are unwilling to imitate Google, and you don’t use a piece of software that automatically reworks every page to display your watermark, that’s the price of being not being Google. Someone may decide to steal your PDF book, since it isn’t your book, and it therefore isn’t stealing.

You can then create a property right by adding value to these public domain images.

The Ron Paul Curriculum uses Ray’s Arithmetic as the foundation of its math program, grades 1-5. The RPC adds value by the explanatory videos. These belong to the RPC.

If you are interested in pursuing this, find books like Ray’s Arithmentic, download them from the Web or buy them from someone who has already gone into business by doing this, and create your own products. You pay the other guy — but only once — for having done the grunt work of compiling the images. Then use them any way you choose.

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

Continue Reading on www.garynorth.com

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