Creating Your Own Public Domain Textbook in Pressbooks

Sources of Public Domain Texts

There are many collections of public domain works available on the web that you can use to source content.  You will need to be aware of the public domain provisions in your country’s copyright law before copying any works.  In Canada currently (2022) print works ascend into the public domain 50 years after the death of the author. Also, if you are dealing with a translated work, please be aware that the translation also needs to be in the public domain.

When looking for texts, favour those in html, plain text or epub formats as these are easily editable.  PDF files will require additional processing to render them editable.

Public Domain Texts in Digital Format

The following sites provide access to a wide range of public domain texts:

Project Gutenberg (pre-1927 works; public domain under US copyright law)

Internet Archive (pre-1927 works; public domain under US copyright law)

Wiki Source

LibriVox (Audio files of U.S. public domain texts)

If you are in a country with more permissive copyright laws than the US, you may also consider the following:

Project Gutenberg Canada (author died 50+ years ago)

Public Domain Works not in Digital Format

There are many works in the public domain that are not yet accessible in electronic format on the web.  If have access to print copies of public domain texts in your library or via inter-library loan, consider scanning these items and creating an editable version that you can make publicly available.  Once you have scanned your book you will need to convert the resulting PDF files into a format that can be edited.  If you have the full version of Adobe Acrobat (not just the reader), you can do this by exporting the PDF file as a Word document or by using Adobe’s OCR features. If you do not have access to the fully-featured Adobe Acrobat, you can use Google Docs.  To do this, upload your pdf to your Google Drive then open it as a Google Doc.  Once you have done that, you can then export the file as either a docx or epub document, both of which can be imported into Pressbooks.



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Public Domain Core Collection Faculty Guide Copyright © 2022 by Brock University and Ryerson University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.