Thursday, May 3, 2012

Helping Historical Societies Earn Income with Reprints

Most, if not all historical societies have a backlog of information that can yield much needed revenue in these tough economic times. Over the years, societies have published town histories, event books, documents, journals, meeting records, and cookbooks.  Many of these publications are either out-of-print or exist in very low quantities.  There is a definite market for these cultural treasures, which can be reproduced and sold to the tourist trade,  used for research purposes, or even for pleasure reading.

With the new digital printing processes, and the ability to scan pages of previously printed works and put them into digital image formats, publications can easily be reprinted for profit.  For example, a book that was out-of-print fifteen years ago about "who was buried in the county before 1850"  has resulted in sales up to $1500 a year for one historical society. Real-life nostalgia articles on "how it was back then" can be reformatted as books and sold by the dates of the articles.  Fragile and fading original documents can be preserved and protected, and their reprints can be utilized for museum and store displays, or sold on-site at the gift shop, local drug store, or at special events. Documents can be printed as needed, in small quantities, ordered online,  and even fulfilled by an outside vendor.  

Historical societies can take the first step to uncovering overlooked and potentially valuable documents by conducting a thorough inventory of their books and documents.  The most important thing to remember when working with historic documents is to obtain clear copyright clearance before producing new materials.

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