Time marches on, and as of 2024, any book published in 1928 or earlier is in the public domain in the U.S. and most other countries. When I started the Tom Swift and His Pocket Library project, the threshold was 1922, which placed the first 25 Tom Swift books in the public domain. As of today, 31 of the novels are copyright-free. I have just finished producing book 26, Tom Swift and His Flying Boat, which is available in the following formats.
- HTML (read on-line)
- PDF (download, read on-line, or print)
- EPUB (upload to E-reader device)
- Plain Text (UTF-8, edit, transform, re-mix)
- XeLaTeX (re-format, custom typeset, print, re-publish)
With this book, I have modernised the preparation process of the books and the formats in which they are distributed. The source text is now in Unicode, using the UTF-8 encoding standard. This allows direct inclusion of characters such as proper open and close quotation marks, en- and em-dashes, ellipses, and other typography which previously had to be handled with messy mark-up conventions. HTML editions now conform to the HTML5 standard and use the UTF-8 character set. The PDF edition is prepared using XeTeX, a version of TeX extended to support full Unicode and generate PDF output directly. The PDF is now styled in a format better suited to reading on a computer screen or electronic reader appliance, and contains hyperlinks from the table of contents to chapters in the text. The XeTeX source code is now provided for those who wish to change the format to, for example, produce printed editions. The EPUB edition for electronic book devices and applications now includes a cover image for display in library view.
In earlier Tom Swift novels, foreign villains were usually French, German, or occasionally from perfidious Albion, but in Flying Boat the Bolshevik Reds come onto the stage: with Lenin in the Kremlin, they’re now up to their commie skulduggery trying to purloin technology from the West. Tom Swift proves more stalwart in telling them to pound sand than the starry eyed industrialists who built factories in the Workers’ Paradise in the 1920s and ’30s. Tom is also wary of immigrants: speaking of an irascible physician hailing from Vienna, he makes a crack about the contemporary Austrian hyperinflation:
The same reason that all those foreigners come over here. A million kronen is worth about two cents of our money. And then they say that Americans are so mercenary!
I will be posting the remaining public domain books as time permits.