As of 2016, books copyrighted in the US before 1923 are now in the public domain; their copyrights have expired and it is legal to copy such works. With the exception of Belarus, a work enters the public domain in Europe 70 years after the creator’s death, if it was published during the creator’s lifetime. Different laws apply in different parts of the world, but the general principle remains – sooner or later a book will become fair game for copying.
The rush has already started so get your rewrites in quick. Already on the bookshelves (and in the cinema in some cases) are ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’, ‘Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters’ and ‘Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter’ – amongst others!
If you really fancy aiming for the big money – and planning ahead in some cases – consider a rewrite of one or more of the current bestselling books of all time:
- The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien English (150 million copies sold)
- The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (140.6 million copies sold)
- Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (140 million copies sold)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (107 million copies sold)
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (100 million copies sold)
- 紅樓夢/红楼梦 (Dream of the Red Chamber) by Cao Xueqin (100 million copies sold)
- She: A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard (100 million copies sold).
Or maybe you fancy a crack at rewriting any of these that are already in the public domain: War and Peace, Crime and Punishment or Wuthering Heights? All you need is a modern twist; maybe something topical like ISIS, Ebola, Candy Crush Saga or Abuse. Several combinations of the above are pretty obvious, if rather risky, bedfellows.
Dibs on ‘Harry Potter and The Very Hungry Caterpillar’!