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Researching the Public Domain at Answers.com

Answers.com (www.answers.com) is a great resource for finding…well…answers. But it is ALSO a great place to uncover Public Domain books, if you know how to use the site to find them. Of course…I am going to tell you HOW to do that…so get ready to have fun digging for your own “nuggets.”

Okay…first things first…you COULD go to the website’s main page and begin to search there for Public Domain books. It IS a search portal after all, but you will have a much harder time locating the books we are looking for. I don’t know about you, but I like to find things the EASY way. So that being said, I am going to give you step-by-step instructions on EXACTLY how to find the Public Domain books easily. Sound good? Great! Let’s go…

1. Launch your web browser and type in the the website’s address. But instead of just typing in the main site, use the following address: www.answers.com/topic/”YEAR” where¬†”YEAR” is the publishing year for the books we want to find (in other words, do not type in “YEAR”. You want to type an actual year, like 1902 in the place of “YEAR”. Now remember, all books published in the year 1922 or earlier are now in the Public Domain, as well as approximately 80% of the books published between the years of 1923 and 1964. For now, we’ll keep it simple and stick with books that we know for sure are in the Public Domain. Using my earlier example of 1902, complete the web address so that it looks like this: www.answers.com/topic/1902 Once you have typed in the address, hit .

2. The first thing you will notice on the resulting page is a section on Science and Technology. This is NOT what we are looking for. What WE are looking for is the “American Literature” section. Scroll down the page until you come to the American Literature section or use the drop-down navigation menu located at the top of the screen and select “US Literature.” When you get to the American Literature section, you will see a number of sub-categories listed including Drama and Theater, Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Publications and Events. Now here is an exciting nugget of treasure…all the authors and books you see listed in these sections are ALL in the Public Domain! Now before you go off on some rabbit trails (there will be time for that later), let’s dig a little deeper.

3. Scroll down through the sections until you come to the Nonfiction section. Locate an author named Charles Eastman (he is my favorite Native American author). The entry will look like this:

Charles Eastman (1858-1939): Indian Boyhood. One of the earliest Native American autobiographies captures Eastman’s first fifteen years as a traditional hunter and warrior in Minnesota and Canada. The work makes Eastman the most widely known Native American writer in the first decades of the twentieth century. It would be followed by three collections of short stories dealing with Sioux traditions and history–Red Hunters and the Animal People (1904), Old Indian Days (1907), and Wigwam Days (1909)–and a continuation of his autobiography, From the Deep Woods to Civilization (1916).

4. Click on the author’s name. You will notice that the resulting page contains a listing of books by the author, an author biography, links to online works by the author, and much, much more. It doesn’t get any easier than this, folks!

5. Okay…hit the “Back” button…let’s look at another author. Scroll up a bit until you are in the “Fiction” section. Click on “Jack London,” another of my favorite authors. Again you’ll see a massive amount of info about the author that includes a complete bibliography and links to many of his books available online. Yes, this is THAT easy! I TOLD you!

6. Now go back up to the web address line and type in another year and hit . Follow the same instructions and see what you discover. That’s it…amazing isn’t it?

What is so wonderful about this website is that Answers.com takes a lot of the guesswork out of identifying outstanding books and authors that are now in the Public Domain. This is valuable information that I encourage you to explore. You never know what gem you just might uncover!

To your continued success!

Tony

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One Response to “Researching the Public Domain at Answers.com”

  • Tony, I followed your directions and found several books by Hamlin Garland. These books have been reprinted. On the Amazon website, I found “Daughter of the Middle Border” with a 2007 copyright by Bibliobazaar, all rights reserved. Underneath it says, “Original copyright 1922.”

    Does this mean I can’t republish this book as part of a collection since Bibliobazaar has done it already?

    Just wondering where this leaves us as Amazon says they have over 100,000 books available for Amazon Kindle.

    Darlene

    [Reply]

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