Public Domain Press

2005-03-31

For the last few years, I've been thinking about the idea of a public domain press, which would:

  1. Publish inexpensive but high-quality paperback versions of texts that are in the public domain (something like Liberty Press but for literature, science, history, and the humanities).
  2. Use the profits to (1) provide free, high-quality online versions of these texts in XML, HTML, PDF, and various ebook formats (something like Project Gutenberg without the ASCII), and more importantly (2) buy out the copyrights of significant books that are being kept out of the public domain because of the Sonny Bono Copyright Terms Extension Act of 1998.

Reading Jason Epstein's Book Business: Publishing Past, Present, and Future recently and talking about my idea with some insiders in the publishing industry have led me to realize that starting a publishing company is not a matter to be taken lightly. While I still find the idea intriguing, it probably is something that I will not pursue for a number of years, so I figured I'd finally blog about the idea in case someone else finds it inspiring enough to pursue it.


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