Affinities, a Book of Images to Celebrate 10 Years of The Public Domain Review

In a sim­i­lar way to how Open Cul­ture aims to dis­till in one place the web’s high-qual­i­ty free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al media, so The Pub­lic Domain Review aims to help read­ers explore the vast (and some­times over­whelm­ing!) sea of pub­lic domain works avail­able online — like a small exhi­bi­tion gallery at the entrance to an immense net­work of archives and stor­age rooms that lie beyond. Cel­e­brat­ing curi­ous and beau­ti­ful pub­lic domain images is at the very heart of what we do, and so it seemed fit­ting to mark our 10th anniver­sary with a big and beau­ti­ful book of images. Ever since the project began back in 2011, read­ers have implored us to do one, and so final­ly here it is…  we are extreme­ly excit­ed to bring out into the world AFFINITIES.

Gath­er­ing over 500 prints, paint­ings, illus­tra­tions, sketch­es, pho­tographs, doo­dles, and every­thing in between, the book is a care­ful­ly curat­ed jour­ney explor­ing echoes and con­nec­tions across more than two mil­len­nia of visu­al cul­ture. Assem­bled accord­ing to a dream­like log­ic, the images unfurl in a sin­gle unbro­ken sequence, through a play of visu­al echoes and evolv­ing the­mat­ic threads.

While it’s tak­en the best part of a year to cre­ate (a true lock­down baby), this has real­ly been 10 years in the mak­ing — a book born from a decade of deep immer­sion in pub­lic domain archives.

A com­pelling object and expe­ri­ence in its own right, Affini­ties also acts as a launch­pad for fur­ther dis­cov­er­ies and inven­tive engage­ments with the com­mons. It’s metic­u­lous sourc­ing points to works, cre­ators, and col­lec­tions around the world, serv­ing as a gate­way for future for­ays into the dig­i­tal pub­lic domain.

As for the phys­i­cal book itself, we want­ed to cre­ate an object as stun­ning as the images with­in. It is large for­mat (28 x 21.5cm / 11 x 8.5”), boasts a cloth-bound hard­cov­er, with a foil stamped title and embossed inset image, and extends across a whop­ping 368 pages. To help get this beau­ty made and assure the high­est qual­i­ty pro­duc­tion, we are very hap­py to have teamed up with spe­cial­ist art book pub­lish­er Vol­ume, an imprint of Thames & Hud­son.

It’s being sold via a crowd­fun­der and deliv­ery will be ear­ly next year. In addi­tion to the stan­dard edi­tion of the book, we’ve worked with Vol­ume to cre­ate a spe­cial Collector’s Edi­tion (in a slip­case with lim­it­ed edi­tion poster) and also a set of lim­it­ed edi­tion prints. All of the offer­ings are only avail­able dur­ing the cam­paign. 

Learn more, and order your copy, over on the crowd­fun­der page.

Adam Green is co-founder, cre­ator, and main edi­tor of The Pub­lic Domain Review and PDR Press.

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  • Jose says:

    Hel­lo! Your project is incred­i­ble. The pub­lic domain is full of great books that are worth dis­cov­er­ing by read­ers.

    We are work­ing on a project to col­lect and pub­lish the best books in his­to­ry in good qual­i­ty and in var­i­ous for­mats.

    The web­site address is

    We hope you find it of inter­est!

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.