(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — In the long and storied history of the printed word, now may be the best time to be an avid reader.

Today, literally millions of fiction and nonfiction titles are available in print and electronic formats from publishers big and small, as well as works from countless self-published authors. However, it’s no secret that, regardless of the format, most books aren’t cheap.

February is “I Love To Read Month,” and the good news is, if you have a smartphone, tablet or computer, you can likely enjoy a large number of e-books that are both free and legally available to download.

For Department of Defense ID cardholders in the Fort Leonard Wood community, a great place to start is the Bruce C. Clarke Library, which can provide access to more than 100,000 e-books through the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation online library, as well as access to free reading apps.

“We help quite a few people use it,” said Becky Andreasen, library tech. “All they have to do is come to the library and fill out a small sheet, and we’ll get them into the system.”

Readers can visit the library’s home page at https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/my-fort/BCCL or call 574.563.4113 for more information.

Other places to find complimentary e-books include:

— Public libraries: The Pulaski County Library District, which includes the libraries in Waynesville, Richland and Crocker, has access to e-books, apps and more on its site, http://pulaskicounty.lib.mo.us. Visitors can click the “E-Resources” tab and scroll down to the “E-Books and More” link to access the “Missouri Libraries 2 Go” system, which features fiction and nonfiction e-books, as well as the EBSCO eBooks portal, which offers a large selection of nonfiction titles.

— Go big: Some of the biggest tech and e-commerce companies in the world offer free e-books through their own signature reading apps and app stores. While most of these stores aim to sell e-books or subscription packages, a quick search for free e-books on their platforms will likely reveal hundreds of available titles at no cost.

— Project Gutenberg: There are several nonprofit sites (and self-proclaimed nonprofits) offering free e-books online. But many of these simply offer links to the granddaddy of them all, Project Gutenberg, a certified 501c3 nonprofit organization that began digitally preserving culturally significant texts as a college project all the way back in 1971. Today, https://www.gutenberg.org/ is a free, online library of more than 64,000 e-books, most of which are in the public domain. The site offers most titles in multiple formats that can be read by most reading apps or devices. As a bonus, anyone can use the site with no registration required.

Practice cyber safety

In order to read e-books on your phone, tablet or computer, you’ll likely need to download and install an app or program usually referred to as an “e-reader.” Dozens of such apps are available from both large, brand-name booksellers, as well as independent developers. Regardless of which program or app you choose, be sure to practice effective cybersecurity. Consider these tips from the U.S. Army Cyber Command when downloading apps:

— Avoid all sensitive activities, such as online shopping, banking or downloads, when using public wireless networks or hotspots. Stick to secure sites and legitimate internet domains.

— Understand app permissions before accepting them. Check privacy settings and know what permissions you’re giving an app before installing.

— Before downloading new apps, update your mobile software or operating system to improve your device’s ability to defend against malware.

For more cyber-security tips, visit https://www.arcyber.army.mil/Info/Fact-Sheets/Fact-Sheet-View-Page/Article/1425705/cybersecurity-fact-sheet-mobile-devices.