Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Literature ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Literature
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Books and Literature
Asked by: 211563-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 25 Aug 2003 00:05 PDT
Expires: 24 Sep 2003 00:05 PDT
Question ID: 248429
I'm looking for the location I would go to to find published books,
songs, poems, short stories, etc. that are out of print and the
copywrite has expired.  Thanks

Request for Question Clarification by angy-ga on 25 Aug 2003 00:35 PDT
Are you after a bricks-and-mortar shop specialising in out-of-print
books, or for a website which publishes out-of-print books to
download, but which are no longer obtainable as a regular book?

Clarification of Question by 211563-ga on 25 Aug 2003 13:36 PDT
Thanks for your answer.  What I'm looking for are out of date books,
etc. where the copywrite has expired so I can update and republish. 
One book in particular meant a great deal to me over the years....How
I raised myself from failure to success in selling by Howard Bettger. 
It is outdated but has many principles valid today...I believe it was
first published in the l930's.  Same with music but for a more
mercenary reason.  There was a man in my hometown of Toccoa, Georgia
that wrote and recorded a famous tune in the l960'
s.  He collectd quarterly royalty checks most of his life until "bong"
he went to mailbox and checks stopped coming because copywrite ran
out.  My family helped to support the man until he died.  Why let the
publishing house keep all the bucks when the money could go to the
soup kitchen.  Thanks for any help you can give.  Randy

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 26 Aug 2003 17:41 PDT
Hello there,

Thanks for posting a question on a very interesting topic.  

As a general rule of thumb, boks published before 1923 are generally
no longer protected by copyright (there are exceptions though, so be

There are many such "public domain" (copyright-free) books, poems,
stories, etc. posted on the Internet in electronic form.  These are
available for downloading, and once downloaded, you can do whatever
you want with them, rewrite parts of them, extract
bits and pieces of numerous books...the possibilities are great.

Is this what you're looking for?

If so, I'd be more than happy to direct you to sources of thousands of
copyright-free books, poetry journals, magazines, science
publications, stories, and myriad other types of printed documents.

Just to give you a feel for it, one site offers 8,500 books, 2,500
magazine articles, and more than 200 volumes of poetry -- all of it
available for the taking.

Some of the authors are quite famous...Mark Twain for instance...while
many of them are obscure.  But most were chosed for a reason, because
of their literary and historical value.  You will find many gems among

Let me know if this is the type of information that you want as an
answer to your question.  If so, I'll be glad to provide details of
sites that will lead you to thousands of volumes of material.

Bestof luck in your venture.


Clarification of Question by 211563-ga on 27 Aug 2003 14:08 PDT
again, yes, I want the sites to go to on internet..this is terrific...thanks, Randy
Subject: Re: Literature
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 27 Aug 2003 17:10 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Randy,

I'm glad we got clear on what you're after.  I think you'll find that
there are enormous resources on the internet for getting accesse to
copyright-free materials.  I have used many of these in my own work,
and I can tell you, I feel very fortunate to live in a time when such
fantastic resources are available to just about anyone and everyone.'s the list:


Our first stop is the Making of America site at the University of

which describes itself this way:		

"Making of America (MoA) is a digital library of primary sources in
American social history from the antebellum period through
reconstruction. The collection is particularly strong in the subject
areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion,
and science and technology. The collection currently contains
approximately 8,500 books and 50,000 journal articles with 19th
century imprints."

At the bottom of the page, you'll see clickable text for searching
"Books" and "Journals".  Click on these, and have a good
explore...there are tremendous resources here.  Note that when you
actually view a document, the system gives you an option of viewing it
as plain text, or you can choose "image" and see the actual page as it
appeared in the original publication.


And as if that's not enough, the Making of America collection is only
one part of a larger collection of on-line texts which you can find
here (pardon the outrageously long link):;c=blaketc;c=bosnia;c=busadwp;c=bwrp;c=conraditc;c=crossc;c=did;c=eebodemo;c=evansdemo;c=fung1tc;c=gandf;c=lincoln;c=mfs;c=moa;c=moajrnl;c=mqr;c=mqrarchive;c=ncosw;c=postid;c=roper;c=tmr;c=umhistmath;c=umr;c=umregproc;c=umsurvey;c=umtri;c=womv;xc=1;sid=8a94dfc013681fcb73880a900aeba967;page=simpleext

This will take you to a list of about thirty online collections,
including poetry, works of President Lincoln, the famous Encyclopedia
of Diderot, and many more.  Much of what’s here may not be of interest
--  the Herbarium Fungus Monographs, for instance -- but just select
those collections you like, and de-select everything else.


But wait....there's more.  The above MoA sites are from the University
of Michigan, who created MoA in collaboration with Cornell University.
 Cornell's part of the collection can (a bit confusingly) be found at:


One of the commentors below mentioned the Project Gutenberg site, and
I couldn't agree more...another fantastic resource with more than
6,000 books available:

Copyrighted or not?  As the PG site itself notes:


What am I allowed to do with the books I download? 

Most Project Gutenberg e-texts are public domain. You can do anything
you like with these--you can re-post them on your site, print them,
distribute them, convert them to other formats.

Some Project Gutenberg e-texts have copyright restrictions. You can
still download and read these, but you may not be allowed to
reproduce, modify or distribute them. When browsing or searching on
the site, you will see these copyright-restricted texts indicated in
the listings. For fuller information about them, download the e-text
and read the header of the file, which will spell out the conditions
in detail.


So, the bottom line here is that most of the material from the PG site
is copyright-free, but you should still make a case-by-case
determination just to make sure.

Another large collection of e-books can be found at the SearcheBooks

Much of the material here is certainly old enough so that the original
text is no longer covered by copyright.  However, try though I might,
I couldn't find a statement at the SearcheBooks site that explained
the copyright status of the material.  If you find something here that
you want to make use of, it would be best to contact the SearcheBooks
folks directly to make sure you can make use of the material.


I don't know how far back in history you're interested in venturing,
but the Medieval & Classical Library at:

certainly has some oldies but goodies, and as the front page of the
site notes, "Unless otherwise noted, all texts are public domain in
the United States."

Note that they also have some links at the top of the page to other
sites with classically-oriented texts.


I'll include a link to the University of Virginia's e-book library as

because it's nicely organized, and is a good collection.  Note,
though, that not everything here is copyright-free.  If you find
something you want to use at this site, check it's status may well be that -- even if UVa wants to limit you use
of the text -- you can find the same text elsewhere on the internet
that is fully unrestricted.


The Bartleby site is also worth noting for its *great* collection of
the classics:

but again, these files are copyrighted by Bartleby.  However, some
judicious searching of the internet for any title you are interested
in (I recommend a Google search, naturally) will more often than not
turn up a public domain copy of the file of interest, for your
unfettered use.


As you can see, there are an impressive number of resources to turn
to.  Each site has its own idiosyncracies as far as searching for
information, identifying texts, and viewing and downloading the

If you run into any difficulties at any of the sites, just post a
Request for Clarification here, and let me know what type of problem
you're running into.  I'll do my best to help you work things out.

Enjoy these resources, and of course, best of luck with your
publishing project.


search strategy: None....used my collection of etext bookmarks
211563-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $50.00
Unbelievbly extensive and accurate.  I searched for years and couldn't
find what this person did in a day.  thanks.

Subject: Re: Literature
From: morris-ga on 25 Aug 2003 10:00 PDT
There is no central depository for expired copyrights, as copyrights
are for the life of the author plus a number of years (from 28 years
around the birth of the country to 70 years currently). Nobody tracks
the death of all authors, so nobody has a central database of expiring
copyrights. Since authors often publish their best works in their
youth and live another 30 or more years, it's rare to see a copyright
expire for 100 years after publication.

Out of print is simply determined by the publisher when they no longer
sell the book. Publishers who accept returns while a book is in print
will normally publish notifications of the books they are declaring
out of print, the back pages of Publishers Weekly are a common place.
Thanks to print-on-demand, many current books will never go out of
print, which some see as a blessing, others as a curse, since their
rights will never revert.
Subject: Re: Literature
From: jeeagle-ga on 26 Aug 2003 16:09 PDT
Project Gutenberg, at

exists to compile every out-of-copyright book they can get their hands

It's books only (including poems) - no songs, I'm afraid - and the
files are plain vanilla .txt, which makes downloading quick but
unfortunately they're not very readable.

A quote from their site about copyright:

"We cannot publish any texts still in copyright. This generally means
that our texts are taken from books published pre-1923. (It's more
complicated than that, as our Copyright Page explains, but 1923 is a
good first rule-of-thumb for the U.S.A.)"
Subject: Re: Literature
From: 211563-ga on 27 Aug 2003 14:07 PDT
pafalafa...that's exactly what I want...give me as many sites as you
can fine...i'm grateful and a big tipper...Randy
Subject: Re: Literature
From: pafalafa-ga on 28 Aug 2003 04:40 PDT

Thanks so much for the generous rating and tip.  You are embarked on
an exciting project, from the sound of it.  I hope the tools I
provided can speed you on your way.


Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy