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Tom Swift
and His Pocket Library

Palm resources at Fourmilab

One of the great things about having a pocket computer or mobile phone is its ability to store electronic books which you can read anywhere, any time. The limited resolution and small size of a PDA or smart phone screen isn't as felicitous a medium for literature as ink on paper or even a high resolution computer screen, but it has the advantage that it's always at hand. With a book or two dozen on a mobile, whenever I'm stuck in a long line at the post office or supermarket, sitting in the dentist's waiting room, or waiting for the train, I can pass the time in one of my favourite ways—reading—even if I didn't pack a book.

As this kind of “handheld reading” tends to be catch as catch can, subject to interruption at any time, it's best to choose light titles which don't require a lot of concentration or a long attention span to appreciate. Early 20th century juvenile pulp fiction fills this bill superbly, and recently I've been reading the original Tom Swift novels written by Victor Appleton between 1910 and 1941. (Note that there were two subsequent series of books written by “Victor Appleton II” [a “house name” pseudonym for various writers] featuring both the Tom Swift and Tom Swift, Jr. characters. I refer here to the original series.)

All of these books published prior to 1923 are now in the public domain, and have been made available as Etexts (electronic texts) by Project Gutenberg. To read these books, I download the Project Gutenberg text, modify it to be compatible with my etset program, which I then use to produce a document compatible with eReader (a.k.a. Peanut Reader, a.k.a. Palm Reader) and the EPUB format supported by numerous electronic book readers and applications. I can then load one of these files onto my handheld, and I'm ready to read it whenever the opportunity arises. Since I already have the text in etset format, I also go ahead and make HTML and PDF versions which can be read online or printed, and an archive containing the etset plain text document. When I prepare a document, I invariably fix some typographical errors and improve formatting where necessary for readability. Since these changes result in the document differing from the Project Gutenberg canonical edition, I distribute it as a pure public domain text, not under the Project Gutenberg trademark. I do this in order to comply with the Project Gutenberg license, not with any intent to deprive Project Gutenberg of the credit they are due for making these documents freely available to readers worldwide.

Available Titles

Currently available titles are listed in the table below. For each Title, columns give the Date of original publication, the Number of the book in the Tom Swift series (the books contain forward and backward references, but can be enjoyed in any order), and links to directly install (on platforms which support this) or download the eReader edition, download the EPUB edition (not currently available for all titles), download a Zipped archive containing the plain ASCII edition, links to open Web HTML or typeset Adobe PDF versions you can read online or print, and a link to the original source Etext at Project Gutenberg.

Title Date Num. eReader EPUB HTML Online PDF ASCII (etset) Gutenberg
Tom Swift and His Motor-Cycle 1910 1 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His Motor-Boat 1910 2 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His Airship 1910 3 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His Submarine Boat 1910 4 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His Electric Runabout 1910 5 Download
Install
Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His Wireless Message 1911 6 Download
Install
Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift Among the Diamond Makers 1911 7 Download
Install
Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift in the Caves of Ice 1911 8 Download
Install
Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His Sky Racer 1911 9 Download
Install
Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle 1911 10 Download
Install
Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift in the City of Gold 1912 11 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His Air Glider 1912 12 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift In Captivity 1912 13 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His Wizard Camera 1912 14 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His Great Searchlight 1912 15 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His Giant Cannon 1913 16 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His Photo Telephone 1914 17 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His Aerial Warship 1915 18 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift And His Big Tunnel 1916 19 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift in the Land of Wonders 1917 20 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His War Tank 1918 21 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His Air Scout 1919 22 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His Undersea Search 1920 23 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift Among the Fire Fighters 1921 24 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext
Tom Swift and His Electric Locomotive 1922 25 Download
Install
Download Read Read Download Etext

Installing Books on Your Handheld Computer

In order to read eReader format books on your mobile computer, you must install the eReader application, which may be downloaded and installed from the eReader site. As far as I know, these books are compatible with all earlier versions of this program, which have been called Palm Reader, Peanut Reader, and heaven knows what else. (The eReader application is available for PocketPC, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, and other handhelds as well as those based on PalmOS; books downloaded from this page are compatible with all versions. Versions of eReader are also available for Windows and Macintosh desktop and notebook computers, but if you want to read these books on such a machine, you'll probably prefer the PDF or HTML editions, as they're better adapted to the higher screen resolution and richer selection of fonts available on these machines.)

Once the reader application is installed, you're ready to download and install books from this and other online collections. With some mobile device implementations of eReader, including those for the iPhone and iPad, you can do this in one step, directly from the eReader application. From the “All Books” screen, select the “+” button to add books, then choose “Another site” as the library you wish to access. Enter the URL for this page, and a Web browser window will open. Scroll down to the book you wish to install and click the “Install” link for that book in the eReader column. The book should then automatically download and appear in the list of books in eReader. As all of these books are unlocked, there is no need to log in to an eReader account nor enter a password to download and open them.

If the version of eReader you're using does not support installation of books within the application, download the books you wish to read from the “Download” link in the eReader column of the table above and save the Zipped archive on your hard drive. Extract the contents with an un-zip utility to obtain the .pdb file containing the book. (Users of Windows XP and subsequent systems may open the zipped archive like a regular folder.) For PalmOS handhelds, use the Palm Desktop Install dialogue to select this file for installation, then HotSync to copy the file to your handheld. For other operating systems, follow the instructions provided with eReader for those platforms. You may then launch the eReader application and use its “Open” menu item to open the newly installed book.

Some titles are also available in EPUB format, an open standard supported by many mobile reading devices and applications, including Apple's iBooks for iOS devices and the Barnes & Noble Nook. EPUB editions are being added as books in the collection are updated; eventually they will be available for all titles. Please consult the documentation for your EPUB-compatible reading device for directions on how to install EPUB books onto it.

About the Language

These books were written early in the 20th century, in an era when popular fiction often used ethnic terms and dialects which may shock the delicate sensibilities of some readers in our effete, decadent age of walking-on-glass politeness. There's nothing in these books you won't find in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn; indeed, Victor Appleton, author of the Tom Swift series, was 11 years old when Huck Finn was published, and his first Tom Swift novel appeared in 1910, the year Mark Twain died. Of course, some earnest, politically-correct school librarians have purged Mark Twain's timeless classics from the shelves in the interest of “diversity” (Huh?), so doubtless some self-righteous book burner will inveigh against these books as well. Let 'em.

English spelling has evolved somewhat since these books were published: “gasolene” is now “gasoline”, “aeroplane“ has been simplified to “airplane”, and many compound words coined for new-fangled inventions such as “motor-cycle” are now written as one word. These books preserve the original spellings, both in the interest of authenticity and since it gives them a nice period flavour. If you find an oddly-spelt word which occurs only once, it may be a typo (which you're welcome to report as described below), but if it's spelt that way consistently throughout the book, it's almost certainly that way in the original text.


This document is in the public domain. Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this document for any purpose and without fee is hereby granted, without any conditions or restrictions. This document is provided “as is” without express or implied warranty.

If you find errors in this document or the books, please report them to Bravo Uniform Golf Sierra @ Foxtrot Oscar Uniform Romeo Mike India Lima Alpha Bravo Decimal Charlie Hotel. If you don't have any idea what I just said, please consult this document. If you're reporting a typo in one of the electronic books, please include the full book title in the “Subject” line and quote the complete line of text (or, better still, paragraph) in which the error occurs along with your report. Thanks!

by John Walker
December 2014
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