Root Your Nook Simple Touch with Glow Light [Guide]

I’ve previously showed how to jailbreak your Apple TV 2 to make it the ultimate video streaming device. I wanted to do something similar for an e-ink reader which is why I came across the  Barnes & Noble’s Nook Simple Touch with Glow Light. It’s a very versatile reader that supports ePub and PDF file formats, has a built-in Glow Light technology, and most importantly, can be rooted revealing the Android operating system (and thus allowing you to install apps from the Google Play store).

But you may ask, why buy an e-ink device when you can get a tablet like an Apple iPad or Amazon Fire for the same price? Simply put, I wanted a dedicated book reading device that would allow me to read for extended periods of time without eye strain. E-ink does have some advantages over traditional displays:

  • Low power consumption. E-ink only consumes power when it refreshes so you can use the device for several weeks before requiring recharging.
  • Glare free. Text appears crisp and clear regardless if you are viewing it in broad daylight. It’s is if you’re reading from an actual book.
  • No eyestrain. Doesn’t rely on a back light to display text so you don’t have light directed into your eye which causes fatigue.

The rooting process, although slightly longer, was essentially pain-free. So if you’re still interested, you can view the full guide after the break.

What you will need:

  • Nook Simple Touch with Glow Light. Since the device isn’t available outside the United States. I had to purchase mine from eBay. Update: This guide was tested with 1.1.5 firmware. Users with newer versions have reported issues so my suggestion is to downgrade if possible. You can check your firmware by going to your device settings page.
  • 2GB+ MicroSD card. This is needed to store the Android image to your device. 2GB or more should suffice.
  • MicroSD Card Reader
  • USB Cable
  • Download and install Winimage (link)
  • Google Account (required to enable the Google Play Store fix)

You will also need the following files:

  • Clockwork recovery mod (original thread). I used sd_2gb_clockwork-rc2.zip (link) but you don’t require exactly a 2GB card, anything higher will work as well.
  • Glownooter 1.5.26 (link)
  • Google Play Store Fix (link)

Rooting Guide:

  1. The first thing you have to do is make a backup image of your Nook. This is IMPORTANT in case something goes wrong during the rooting process, you may end up with a BRICKED unit. Do not proceed to the next step until you do so! You can learn how to backup your Nook here.
  2. We’ll need to prep the MicroSD card. Extract the Clockwork recovery mod file and save it to a file location. You should have a .img file.
  3. Insert the MicroSD card to your computer via the SD card reader if your computer doesn’t have one built it. Format the MicroSD card but be warned, you will lose whatever is already on the card so back it up beforehand! You should not use your Nook as a card reader!
  4. With your MicroSD card now clean, open up WinImage and select ‘Disk’ -> ‘Restore Virtual Disk Image on Physical Drive…’ and select the drive letter associated with the MicroSD card and hit ‘OK’. Now locate the the folder were you extracted the 2gb_clockwork-rc2.img file and select the file. If you do not see it, make sure file type is set to ‘All files’. Confirm and the .img file will be written to the card.
  5. Once the CWM image has been written, copy over both the Glownooter and Google Play Store Fix files to the MicroSD card. Keep both files in .zip format. You can now eject the MicroSD card.
  6. Shut down your Nook fully by holding down the power button and confirming that you want to power down. Then insert the CWM MicroSD card into your Nook. Power your Nook back on and you should see the clockworkmod logo followed by a menu screen. You can control the menu screen with the Nook buttons as follows:

    Top Right Button: Up

    Bottom Right Button: Down
    Top Left Button: Back
    ‘n’ Button on Front: Select
    Power Button: Toggle Display
  7. Use the Nook buttons to scroll through the clockworkmod menu and highlight ‘Install Zip from SD Card’, press the ‘n’ button to select it. Then select ‘Choose from Zip from SD Card’ and locate the ‘ glownooter-1-5-26.zip’ file you saved on the MicroSD card and select it. Select ‘Yes’ and the Nook will begin the root process.
  8. Once it is complete, remove the MicroSD card, back out to the main clockwordmod menu and select ‘Reboot System Now’. Your Nook will reboot and you will be presented with the Android setup screen!
  9. From the Android setup screen, you can skip the sign-in process and just hit continue. You will be prompted to select a launcher so select the ADW launcher and you’ll now be taken to the Android home screen underneath the regular Nook application.
  10. Success! Your Nook is finally rooted. You can use the ‘n’ button to take you back to the Nook interface and the ADW launcher on the right to take you to the Android home screen.

Although your unit is now rooted, access to the Google Play Store may not work yet. To fix this, use the following to enable it.

Google Play Store Fix Guide:

  1. From the Android home screen, select the App Drawer icon on the bottom center screen and start up the YouTube app. Select ‘My Channel’ in the app’s menu and enter your Google credentials. Accept the permissions request and then exit the app.
  2. Launch the Gmail app, go to the app’s menu and select ‘Refresh’. You may not notice anything. Regardless, just exit the app.
  3. Power off the Nook and insert the clockworkmod MicroSD card again. We will now install the Google Play Store fix.
  4. Power your Nook back on and you should see the clockworkmod logo followed by a menu screen. Use the Nook buttons to scroll through the clockworkmod menu and highlight ‘Install Zip from SD Card’, press the ‘n’ button to select it. Then select ‘Choose from Zip from SD Card’ and locate the ‘beta5-1XWUMFTouch-PART-2-END.zip’ file you saved on the MicroSD card and select it. Select ‘Yes’ let the file be installed.
  5. Once it is complete, remove the MicroSD card, back out to the main clockwordmod menu and select ‘Reboot System Now’. Your Nook will reboot and you will be presented with the Android home screen again. At this point, you can re-format your MicroSD card so you can use it normally again. Note: In my case, my Nook didn’t reboot automatically to the Android screen so I just manually rebooted it by holding down the power button for a few seconds to power it off and then back on.
  6. Start up the Google Play Store App and enter your Google account. Note: The account you add here cannot be removed (until you decide to re-install android again) so make sure you choose wisely.
  7. Success! The Google Play Store should now be available and working, however you will need to do few tweaks to get the search function working.

Google Play Store Search Workaround

  1. The first thing you will notice is that the search function of the Google Play Store doesn’t work so we’ll need an alternative. You’ll want to install Opera Mobile. So start up the Google Play Store app, Select ‘Apps’ -> ‘Communication’ -> ‘Top Free’ and locate Opera Mobile and install it.
  2. Start up Opera Mobile, and do a search for ‘searchmarket app’ and the first result should direct you to this app (link). Install it from the Google Play Store.
  3. Once done, close the browser and open your App Drawer again, select the Nook Color Tools app, and select the option ‘Allow Non-Market Apps to Install Apps from Outside the Google AppStore.’ Then de-select it again.
  4. Success! You can now use the SearchMarket apps to find and install apps from the Google Play Store.

Notable Apps to Install

Now that you can search and install apps, the following are some recommended to complement your Nook.

  • Amazon Kindle (Amazon’s own dedicated reading app, Note: You will need version 3.1 or lower to work with the Nook link)
  • Kobo Reader (Kobo’s own dedicated reading app link)
  • Aldiko (ePub reader with many view settings, Note: You will need version 2.0 or lower to work with the Nook link)
  • Cool Reader (Another good ePub reader, link)
  • Mango (Online manga viewer, a must-have for manga fans link)

Hopefully that covers enough to unlock the full potential of your Nook. Still unsure about anything? Be sure to leave a comment below!

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  • Claudia

    Thanks for this detailed info! I’m on the fence between buying the Kobo Glo (I’m also in Canada, and this is easily available) and the Nook Glowlight. I’m inclined to get the latter (even it means using eBay) because no one seems to have rooted the Glo :-(

    • http://longhoang.ca/ Long Hoang

      I too was on the fence with the Kobo Glo but tried a unit in store and it was so sluggish. If you can somehow manage to import a Nook, its much more flexible since it can read almost anything. If you’re concerned about buying off eBay, you can use a service like ReShip.com which will accept US-only orders and forward it to anywhere in the world.

      • Claudia

        That’s good to know about the Kobo Glo being sluggish in comparision to the Nook Glowlight — it’s been ever so tempting just to walk into a bricks and mortar store to pick up the former! But now I think I will go with eBay, picking a vendor with good feedback.

        I have books in a variety of formats, so flexibility is the number one reason I want the Nook. I realize that the Kindle Paperwhite can be rooted, but it lacks a card slot and I don’t want to be dependent on the “cloud.”

        I’ve also been eyeing the Nook HD — it’s only $80 more — but the bottom line is that e-Ink is so much easier on the eyes for reading, and that’s primarily what I’d be using the Nook for.

        • http://longhoang.ca/ Long Hoang

          Good call, you can’t go wrong with e-ink!

  • Aurens

    Any info on if this works for 1.2.0?

    • http://longhoang.ca/ Long Hoang

      My Nook w/ Glowlight is using 1.1.5 which is what I used for this guide. I’m not sure if they blocked this in 1.2.0 but I doubt it.

      • http://www.madd0g.org/ Mo “Mad Dog” Sto..

        Looks like there’s a patch available that would work for 1.2.0. I’m reluctant to try it unless a few more have confirmed though! http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1675706&page=12

        • Alfgraphics

          I’ve been trying glownooter-1-12-25.zip. It doesn’t seem to work properly. The Amazon Store doesn’t allow me to install any apps. And, google play let me enter my credentials and then stopped working. My nook glowlight had 1.2.0 on it. I upgraded to 1.2.1 and it still won’t work.

          • http://longhoang.ca/ Long Hoang

            Thanks for the heads up, I’ve updated my guide to reflect the firmware version. My suggestion is to downgrade to 1.1.5 (if possible) as I can verify that this process worked for me.

          • Nookrooter

            How do you downgrade? I’m running 1.2.1

  • Pedro Ishibashi

    Hi,

    First, sorry for my english errors, I´m from Brazil.

    I rooted my NSTG and when try to unroot with backup discovered my
    backup image is useless (only 76mb), but i already formated all
    partitions and instaled this backup image on NSTG.

    Then, after some research, i could be able to recovery some original partitions (like ROM).

    At this moment, I´m despairingly looking for a image backup to overwrite with my nook informations (ROM).

    Please, can you share a backup image of NSTG???
    This Nook was a birthday gift from my girlfriend (the birthday will be in 01/19 and I already broked…)

    Thanks.

    • http://longhoang.ca/ Long Hoang

      Hi Pedro,

      Sorry to hear that. Are you sure that you wiped out all the partitions on your Nook? As I’m aware, there is one partition which contains a backup factory image and isn’t affected during the rooting process.

      You can try to access this image but if it isn’t there, you can try this thread I found on XDA http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1704725 Either way, I’m sure you’ll be able to recover your device so don’t worry!

      Good luck!

  • Stan

    I have this working on 1.2.0 Be sure to low level format the Micro SD. My PC would not low level format using Win 7 and SDFormatter. I had to put the SD card in one of my digital cameras to low level format and then it worked using glownooter-1-12-25.zip.

    I have found it easier to install apps from my computer using the web based play.google.com store. Once you have registered your google account to the Google market app, the nook glow should show up as a “Phone” in the play.google.com web site when you sign in. Just search SearchMarket, Opera or Kindle and install to your glow by choosing “Send to” and pick “Phone” Make sure you have WiFi turned on. The app will be downloaded and installed on the glow. Google should let you install any app that is compatible. I have installed Dropbox, File Manager and Dolphin Browser this way.

    Once you have installed “File Manager” from the play.google store you can install non google apps. Place the apk file in a folder on you glow using the USB connection to your computer or Dropbox or place the apk file on a micro SD card and put that in your glow. Use File Manager to find your apk and select it. It should run and install.

    Be sure to open the NookColor Tools app, uncheck and then re-check allow non-Market apps to install apps from outside the Google appstore.

    This is great because I can now download and read Kindle, Nook, ePub, and PDF’s on this device.

  • Thai

    Hi Long Hoang,

    Unfortunately, My Nook is now bricked and cannot restore because I made a mistake when delete the backup file

    But I found an topic here http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?p=39673177#post39673177

    show the way to recover from brick without backup files

    But I don’t have the image which have “.rom” partion as the picture you showed when you guide to recovery from a backup file

    Could you please export an image from your nook simple touch when enter “Rooted Forever” mode and upload to another website

    Thanks a lots

  • Pedro

    Hi there,

    First of all, many thanks for this clear tuto even I’m having some trouble…

    I arrived to “Reboot System Now” from main clockwordmod menu but when I reboot it never I arrive to see the Android Logo, just it gets stuck in the message (Read Forever Your Nook is starting up…) I recovered the original system with the backup image, but I tried to do it again having same problems. Do you know if I can get any solution? Thanks in advance.

    • http://longhoang.ca/ Long Hoang

      When you get to the “Read Forever” message, give it some time. If it still doesn’t reboot, just do a hard reset with the power button the back. I think I experienced the same issue and a reboot got my Nook to boot to the Android setup screen. Good luck!

      • Alex

        I get tht same problem and it’s not solving by rebooting… Maybe my firmware version is high, I think I’ll check it out

  • Teo Cindy

    Hi, i tried to download Kindle_3.0.1.70.apk and load it into my nook using Dropbox but it does not work. It kept saying “storage full or unavailable” may I know why is it so?

    • http://longhoang.ca/ Long Hoang

      First off, its strange how you can’t locate the Google store app. It should be called Android Market.

  • Jason Fonch

    im having difficulty installing any apps it says there is a lack of memory ??

  • Iyad

    Please, can you show me a tutorial to root my nook glowlight with the 1.2.1 version?
    I can’t find any tutorial :$
    Pleaaase, and thanks :)

  • todortk

    I skipped the “searchmarket.apk” step – the app is not very good and although it is a good workaround when you want to do everything on the nook itself, you have better option:
    open a browser (on a computer or on the nook) and go to the google play store. Sign in with your google account (the same that you used for the nook). search for apps. Push the install button and choose to install on your nook (it is some of the “phone” devices you have). The app gets installed on the nook automatically.

  • http://www.reimboldglobal.com Edward Reimbold

    Everything worked fine until step #8, then I get the Read Forever your nook is starting up screen.
    If I hold down the Power button it reboots but the same thing. If I put the chip back in I get the Clockwork LOGO and can go back to step #7 but end up the same way.
    I have a Simple Touch with GlowLight SN 3030400000753049