Book Review: "The Public Domain Bible" by Andras Nagy

Great insightful advice for the novice publisher.

I really enjoyed reading Nagy’s book. It is an easy to read and comprehensive guide on how to republish public domain books as a way to get started as a self-publisher. There is a heavy emphasis on starting and running a self-publishing company on a very tight budget. There is plenty of practical advice and resources for doing this. It was very helpful to read about how, what, and why Nagy republished books that are in the public domain. This is a practical how-to book that will appeal to every budding entrepreneur looking for a way to enter the world of publishing. I wish that I had found this book before I got started as a publisher of public domain books. I had to discover all of this information on my own by doing a lot of research over a long period of time.

One of my favorite pieces of advice appears early in Nagy’s book when he recommends that a novice publisher should choose a genre that they know something about. It should be a subject that you already love and can easily see yourself devoting time and money to. Nagy suggests, “If you wish to publish classical literary works, you should be reading and studying your genre. If you like poetry, perhaps that genre is to be tried first.”

Nagy gives us another great piece of advice when he stresses that we should consider adding original content to the out-of-copyright book. This will add value to the final book. This added content, such as “editorials, footnotes, and illustrations,” will help make it easier for your readers to understand the content of the original book. It will also help the buyer choose your “value added” edition over all the others that are available for sale that do not have the additional content.

In Nagy’s Foreword, he explains that “The cornerstone of using public domain information is to creatively build upon existing ideas and works of art.” “With some fresh ideas, and using this book, anyone can do what I have done on a shoestring. There are many aspiring authors who find it comforting to run a publishing company while working on their own creative literary urges.”

As a publisher of public domain titles, I can personally testify that Nagy’s information and advice can work. My wife Michele and I own and manage a medical training company here in New York. Most of our students are nurses. We realized that many of them, especially the younger ones, had never heard of, or read the works of, Florence Nightingale. So we decided to republish Nightingale’s most famous book, Notes on Nursing. We added quite a lot of new content to make the book much easier to understand and use. We like to say that we made the book “student friendly and teacher friendly”. We added a foreword, section headings, focus questions for each chapter, a glossary, Nightingale quotes, an index, footnotes, and a list of additional sources. The book was well received and has become mandatory reading in many colleges throughout America. We like to think that our book played a small part in the tidal wave of renewed interest in Nightingale.

This article was written by Joseph C. Kunz, Jr. and originally posted on KunzOnPublishing.com

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