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  Category: Articles » Business » Entrepreneurs » Article

How To Use Alibris To Find Public Domain Books

By Steven Chabotte

The very best way to be sure the materials you are using are truly public domain is to go right to the original published book. But finding an original source book can be quite difficult. Alibris makes it much easier.

What is Alibris?

In their own words:

Alibris connects people who love books, music and movies to thousands of independent sellers around the world. Our proprietary technology and advanced logistics allow us to offer over 30 million used, new and hard-to-find titles to consumers, libraries and other institutions.

Basically if you know Amazon, you understand Alibris. The crucial difference is that Alibris allows you to do searches based on publication date and that makes it very valuable indeed.

How to search.

To start a search, you want to go to the Advanced Search page. Just to to and click on their advanced search button right where it says books. It is located right below the basic search in the left hand corner of the home page.

This brings you to a page with many input options. In addition to the standard title, keyword, etc. inputs is one very valuable input near the bottom of the form. It is called Publication Year - and one of its options is labeled Before. And that is very powerful.

Lets say you were looking for a book on baseball that was in the public domain. Put the word baseball in the title and in the publication date/before field put 1923.

This particular research pulled up over 200 possible books that you have the opportunity to purchase and turn into a product.

A word of warning

The search results are only as good as the data input by the sellers. This means that a certain percentage of books will not match your search terms and a certain number of dates will be wrong - specifically I see lots of books with a publication date of 1900 which is clearly wrong. (I'm guessing that 1900 is the default if no date is entered.)

Therefore, before purchasing a book, it is generally a good idea to send a note to the particular seller to verify the publication date before investing money in the book.

While I would much prefer seeing the book before making a purchase to verify that it meets my needs, if the price is reasonable enough, I figure it is just part of the cost of researching for the product.

Oh, and this is also a good way to search for available books published after 1922 that are in the public domain. For instance if you are looking at doing a diet related product, you could search for books say before 1960 and then when you find books with interesting titles, you can then do a copyright search as discussed in another article on this site (link at end) to see if the book fell into the public domain. And who knows, this could result in finding a diamond in the rough. In fact, at least for diet books, there have been several bestsellers in recent years based on either a public domain book or a government publication.

Good luck with your searching.

About the Author
Steven Chabotte is the webmaster of and and a student of the traits of success. Visit for a complimentary copy of Think and Grow Rich and learn from the masters.

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  Some other articles by Steven Chabotte
How to Profitably Sell Books on
Knowing which books to offer on Amazon can mean the difference between a good income stream and total failure. Here is what you need to know. ...

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