What is Public Domain?
The public domain consists of all the creative work to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply.
A public-domain book is a book with no copyright, a book that was created without a license, or a book where its copyrights expired or have been forfeited.
In the United States, every book and tale published prior to 1926 is in the public domain; American copyrights last for 95 years for books originally published between 1925 and 1978 if the copyright was properly registered and maintained.
In the United Kingdom copyright protection for published works can last up to 70 years after the author’s death. After copyright expires, the work is in the public domain.
The works of Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, and Edgar Allan Poe are in the public domain worldwide as they all died over 100 years ago.
Technically, books under public domain should be FREE. However, many are not. You can however, read them for free in digital format via the Project Gutenberg site.
Many crime/mystery fiction titles are under Public Domain! Here are a few examples:
“Whose Body?” by Dorothy L. Sayers
“The Thirty-Nine Steps” by John Buchan
“The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins
“The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins
“The Man in the Brown Suit” by Agatha Christie
“The Mysterious Affair at Styles” by Agatha Christie
“The Innocence of Father Brown” by G.K. Chesterton
“The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Conan Doyle
“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” by Charles Dickens
“The Red House Mystery” by A.A. Milne
“The Circular Staircase” by Mary Roberts Rinehart
“The Works of Edgar Allan Poe“: the Raven edition
If you have never taken advantage of the books available via Project Gutenberg, you should really check out the site. They have over 60,000 free eBooks! Happy Reading!