Public Domain/Shareware libraries were companies that sold software sent into them by mostly amateur programmers at home. Public Domain and Freeware basically meant that the software was complete and free for people to use. Shareware generally means you are given a portion of the software to 'try out' and if you like it, to then purchase the full version. An example of a Shareware game would be that you'd get to play the first five levels in a game, and then to play the rest you would have to purchase the full product. There were also other terms of software distribution such as Giftware which normally would mean the author would provide the software in full form, but wouldn't mind some kind of donation for their work.
Most PD companies supplied catalogues listing the software they were selling. Often you would get mail outs with listings of all the latest PD software and prices. The prices would vary from 50p to £1.50 a disk in some cases. As time went on, PD companies started to develop Catalogue disks which listed their entire software library and some times included freebies for people to play with. The Catalogue disks would often come with an option to print an order form and then fill it out.
PD libraries generally had many different categories of software. You could generally order software such as: Games, Applications, Demos, Slideshows, Animations, Disk Magazines and much more. Some of the Games and Applications were almost close to commercial quality and renowned throughout the Amiga community as being some of the best.
The PD libraries offered people some good software at very low prices. It also got people into programming and developing their own games and such. There was nothing more fulfilling than making some software and sending it into a PD library and getting some feedback on it. So in a sense it created a community.
As someone who did purchase a lot of PD software in the day, as a kid. There was nothing more exciting seeing my package of disks arrive through the post and testing them all out. In this day and age, where everything is electronic, it just doesn't feel the same!
For educational purposes I have added some example PD Catalogue disks from various companies that I still have in my collection of Amiga disks. Have a look through; it will list PD titles and the prices at the time.
DOWNLOAD VIZ PD - HOW TO SET UP YOUR OWN LIBRARY
DOWNLOAD EXCLUSIVE PD CATALOGUE DISK
DOWNLOAD HORNESOFT PD CATALOGUE DISK