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Ebooks and Ereaders

How to read ebooks, 2015 edition, Part 2: Android

This is the second post in my updated series on how to read ebooks, reflecting my knowledge of what’s available as of 2015. The previous post was on reading ebooks on iOS. This one will cover how to read books on Android devices.

When I say “Android device”, what do I actually mean?

First things first: Android users know that, of course, their devices come in far greater varieties than iOS ones do. This is simply because Android as an operating system is not limited to any specific device. The ones I have immediate experience with are Google Nexus ones and Samsung ones, both phones and tablets.

But, anyone who has half an eye on the various ereaders that are available today will also know that many of the non-iOS tablets are in fact running some form of Android on them. This is particularly true of the Samsung Galaxy Nooks, which are straight-up full Android devices, albeit with Nook apps installed along with Samsung’s own proprietary stuff.

Kindle Fires, on the other hand, are running a heavily mutated version of Android that Amazon calls FireOS. Likewise, the older Nook HD runs a mutated version of Android that uses a proprietary B&N launcher.

So for purposes of this post, I’m going to assume that “Android device” means “any device that’s running a full install of the Android operating system, as opposed to a proprietary version specific to a given ereader”.

With that established, let’s talk about your reading options.

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Ebooks and Ereaders

How to sideload a mobi file to Kindle on an Android device

When Victory of the Hawk dropped in April, a friend of mine in Kentucky won the draw I did for the entire trilogy. Which was all YAY! So I set her up with EPUB copies of the three novels, and also told her that if she wanted to read them on a Kindle device or app, I could convert them to MOBI as well.

However, we ran into a snag. Linda told me that she was having trouble getting the MOBI files into the Kindle app on her device–which in this case was a Samsung Galaxy Android tablet. Since I happen to have one of those as well (i.e., the Samsung Galaxy Nook), and since I am after all a QA Engineer in the day job, I decided to see if I could repro her problem.

(This is kind of long, so details behind the fold!)

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Attention, fellow Android-inclined geeks

Has anyone successfully set up an SD card to have an Android install on it?

What I want to do: use my 32GB SD card to have vanilla Android on it so that I can dual boot my Nook HD between the Nook’s proprietary launcher and vanilla Android*. I do not actually want to root the Nook–I just want vanilla Android available to me so I can switch back and forth and see which I like better.

(The main reason I don’t want to root the Nook right now is that it’s still under warranty, and rooting it will violate that warranty.)

I’ve done a bunch of googling, but the various interesting links I’m finding, while interesting, seem like they’re geared towards actually rooting the device. I’m also seeing a bunch of references to just buying images of Android you can plunk onto an SD card. But while that does sound convenient, screw that, I’ve got the tech chops to do an install myself. I just need to know the proper steps.

Anybody done this? If you have, can you point me at any notable links of interest on how to do it?

* For values of ‘vanilla Android’ meaning ‘I’m open to icecreamsandwich or kitkat or whatever works’. The Nook HD ships with what appears to be a B&N-hacked version of cyanogenmod’s hummingbird build, so I’m fine with looking at that, too.