19th Century Magazines: An Amazing Source of Public Domain Information

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19th Century Magazines: An Amazing Source of Public Domain Information

 

Magazines from the very early 1800s are rich in public domain content, both information and illustrations, and are amongst the most productive and profitable areas for publishers today.

 

I’m thinking of weekly magazines like THE PENNY MAGAZINE and THE SATURDAY MAGAZINE which, though just ten or twelve pages long, were packed with great articles about important subjects of the day, alongside intricate engravings and line drawings which are immensely rare and hugely popular today, including on eBay!

 

It was around the early 1800s that the English language developed to the format we recognise today.  For earlier magazines, few of which remain today, most people are hard pushed to understand the ancient Olde English terminology and strange characters and symbols featured in everyday words like ‘mifs’ (miss) and ‘e’en’ (even).  This makes it really difficult for public domain enthusiasts to transform into eBooks and other information products for readers today.  In another article I’ll tell you why you might focus on these more difficult to recreate products but for now let us look at their later counterparts.

 

Magazines from the 1830s onwards come closest to resembling modern day English and are amongst the riches sources of public domain content for today’s publishers.


So I recommend you dig deep at boot sales and flea markets for magazines from the 1830s to early 1900s where you will find a great many fabulous public domain information products.  This is why:

 

*    You’ll find articles and texts from the early to mid-1800s amongst the best researched and most professionally written of all time.  It was much harder in those days to become a published writer and only the very best made the grade.  Typewriters were still some decades from appearing on the scene, so all articles and books were handwritten.  It was a lengthy process, meaning 19th century writers faced much longer periods than happens today between researching and writing and receiving payment for their work.  Only the best educated individuals, usually from privileged backgrounds, had time, expertise, talent, inclination and financial backing to spend long periods writing for payment many months later. 

 

*  Reading was a major preoccupation and sole source of entertainment for many people in the early 1800s.  So magazine articles were much longer then and often extended to ten or twenty pages and typically covered subjects in depth as opposed to focusing on specific sub-topics like articles today.  Life is fast today and people spend very little time reading, so articles are often intentionally short and readers can read more about the subject online or in fast download eBooks. Those longer comprehensive articles of earlier times are perfect for recreating as complete eBooks and web site content and readers will rarely encounter gaps in the information or be left with questions unanswered. 

 

*  In short, you really could create an authoritative eBook or web site on the strength of one quality vintage magazine, especially from fact-packed supplements on really important matters of the day, such as a December 1837 supplement to THE SATURDAY MAGAZINE featuring hundreds of strange and little known facts about the people, places and customs of a place whose name few people knew – NEW ZEALAND. This particular article, in a magazine I bought last week for 50 pence (about one dollar) will make a wonderful eBook or entire content web site, and I bought many more similarly valuable magazines that day. 

 

Let me leave you with one thought.  Imagine finding well written articles, several thousand words long, all waiting for you to scan and convert to text and add to your web sites and begin generating AdSense and other affiliate commission literally days from now.

 

Imagine paying a dollar apiece or cheaper in bulk for hundreds of early magazines such as I found at a flea market last weekend from which to pick and choose and develop several money making projects for many years to come!