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Ten Ways to Make Money From the Public Domain

Today I received an email from someone querying a postcard I had listed on eBay and which featured men standing outside a shop in a small village close to where I live. This man did not want to buy the postcard, it's already been bid up to sixty dollars and still has five days to go before the auction ends. And I'm very confident that one postcard which cost me just a few cents will fetch one hundred dollars or more on eBay.

Because so many people are bidding and ten more people are watching the item on eBay, the implication is the postcard is probably very rare, possibly unique, and that is why the email I received today has set me thinking about a brand new business opportunity to start on eBay.

The postcard is a real photographic type and I have a feeling it was commissioned by the shop owner whose premises are depicted in the picture and who is also standing outside the shop with three other men who are all identified on the reverse.

If it is rare, if it is unique, that means whoever wins my auction will be one of few people or even the solitary owner of the view depicted on my postcard. And that of course leaves ten or more people still possibly wanting to own that postcard.

But do they want to own the postcard itself or do they, like the man who emailed me today, merely want access to the view itself, for family history purposes, for instance, or to display in their homes or business premises?

I have a feeling at least half of those people currently viewing and actually bidding on my card are keen on the view itself, not the postcard as a potentially one-off collectible. And that is the reason the man who emailed me enquired about how much I'd charge to create a high quality jpeg of the view to send to him on CD.

And there's the basis of a range of new products I'll soon be adding to my eBay shop, namely reproduction items from the public domain which I will present and sell on CD.

I've had the question asked many times about creating jpegs for various photographs and postcards, also prints and maps I had listed for sale on eBay but I've never got round to establishing this new business idea despite the fact I know several people who only sell public domain items on eBay - and do very well indeed.

I spent more than two hours this morning researching other people selling items created from public domain originals and discovered several selling multiple copies of the same products and obviously generating regular profits from one item that may take a day or less to create from its original version.

These are the ten most popular products I discovered with repeat sales potential:

o Television Cartoons, especially with double figure episodes on each CD.

o Classic Films, notably war and action films.

o Vintage Views and Maps, notably busy street scenes of smaller villages and towns, maps from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which have been reproduced on parchment with boundaries subsequently hand coloured.

o Antiquarian Books, especially historical accounts of smaller villages and towns which appeal to genealogists and local historians. Trade directories from the early 1800s onwards are particularly popular.

o Dog Books, of which I noticed several people selling CDs containing ten or more early texts relating to specific breeds.

o Craftwork Plans and Patterns, notably crochet and woodwork.

o Classic Vintage Comics, especially with full production runs on each CD.

o Sheet Music, usually with a minimum of ten items on one CD.

o Stories, mainly from well-known historical authors such as Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, the Bronte Sisters, and so on, usually with ten or more books on each CD and sometimes offered in sets of four CDs all with different contents.

o Audio Books, on lots of different subjects, including self-improvement, sports, hobbies, pastimes.

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