[SOLVED] Android 9 and ereaders
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  1. #1
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    Android 9 and ereaders

    I'm wondering if this is a Just Me issue, and figured I might as well ask here, as most folks are technically minded. I recently got a Pixel 3a XL, which runs Android 9. One of my main uses for a smartphone is as ereader. Generally I read purchased from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or library books. Those work fine. However, I also sideload books on occasion. For example, the excellent Absolute FreeBSD by No Starch Press is made available, if you buy the ebook, in PDF, mobi and epub format. I was unable to sideload it onto my new phone. If I put the mobi under /kindle (where it works on older versions of Android), it's not seen. If I put it under /Books, it's seen, but the cover just appears similar to screen artifacts, and much of the text is blank. I *can* read it with a 3rd party ereader, Pocketbook. I then tried an old book I had as a mobi, and that worked the same way, save that many pages appear as gibberish.
    As for ebooks, I can't read them at all. They don't show up in Nook. Generally, the Nook app has a subdirectory, MyDocuments, and you put books in there. On this phone, there's no subdirectory, and if I put an epub in books, I just get a message it can't be opened. I tried with several different ereaders with the same result. Again, I took a few old epubs I had, with the same result.

    I have already seen Android 9 to be picky. For example, I have some old custom ringtones, say, an anime's introduction, where I just took a small section and did ffmpeg -i anime.mp4 anime.mp3 and had a mp3 file that worked with my old phone. In Android 9, though viewing it through the built in file explorer saw it and played it, it wouldn't show as a ringtone till I re-encoded it specifying a bit rate. (Several different bit rates worked, I standardized on 128k.) So I'm guessing that this Android is also getting pickier about various file formats. Wrote Nook support and received a stock answer, indicating they had just read the subject line. (They suggested putting it in MyDocuments when I'd already mentioned there was no MyDocuments directory)
    So, I'm wondering if anyone else has a phone running Android 9, and if they've tried sideloading ebooks and if so, what results have they had.

    I feel this should go into rants, but Fedora 30 is working nicely for me.

  2. #2
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    Re: Android 9 and ereaders

    Well, I'm still aggravated, but have a solution that seems to work so far. With NoStarch and Tilted Windmills, they offer both mobi and epub, and I can get mobi to work by emailing it to my kindle account. (Under devices, each device has an email address). This, somewhat unintuitively (chrome shows that as a misspelling, but the look program says it ain't), puts it in content and devices under docs. From there, I can choose to send it to my device. From there, it will show up in home (and maybe library) in the kindle app on my phone, and I can then download it.

    For fun, I tried with the epub version, using calibre's ebook-convert to convert it to a mobi. This also seems to work, though several more steps than it was on my old phone. I'm wondering if this is an Android 9 issue or a Just Me, as the different people I corresponded with and spoke with at Kindle hadn't heard of it before. It may be that fewer people than I thought use their phones for ereading, and perhaps even fewer sideload mobi files. I don't do it often myself.

  3. #3
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    Re: Android 9 and ereaders

    Ok, fixed everything, I think. The issue with ebooks seems to be caused by the fact that I was using FTP to put sideloaded books on the phone. Somehow,that corrupted the files. The pixel does include a USB C to A adapter, so you can mount a USB stick. Formatting one in Fat32 enabled me to copy files to the phone, and although the Nook app doesn't have a MyDocuments subdirectory, if I put an epub under /Books, then with the file explorer open it with Nook, after that, it will show in my Nook library. (I prefer to buy from Barnes and Noble to Amazon, because I feel they are less evil--but they wiped out all the other Manhattan bookstores and now Amazon does to them what they did to everyone else, IMHO. But when the price is the same, I tend to buy Nook books rather than Kindle.

    Also, my boss had a USB A to C, and I found out another change. On my old phone, I would connect by cable (USB A to macro or whatever it's called), and on the phone, a dialog box would open asking would I allow the phone to be mounted. On this new one, there was no such dialog and it failed to mount. Googling a bit I found the trick is that you have to go to USB settings (I just searched USB in settings) and select Transfer files, which is unselected by default. (I tried a few times--once I was able to swipe down from some settings on top and do it, but the other two times had to select it from settings and search for USB.)

    So, all my problems with the new phone are resolved. With sideloaded mobi books, when transferred from USB stick or by cable and mounting, I could put them in the /kindle directory like I always have. Who knows, this might help someone one day.

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    Re: Android 9 and ereaders

    I see you marked this solved but I was going to add

    Do you have a microusb port on that?
    If you do you can use mtp (media transfer protocol) on fedora, connect to phone to the fedora pc with a usb to microusb cable.
    At that point you can mount the phone like a drive. Likely you'd need to set your android device in "connections" to enable "usb tethering"
    This frequently let's you move files to the phone easily.

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    Re: Android 9 and ereaders

    No, it only has the USB C. As I mentioned, I can use an included adapter to attach a USB stick. Also, to my chagrin, I realized the reason that FTP-ing files over was resulting in unusable files was because I'd forgotten to specify binary before the transfer. (Though I haven't had to do that for years, it may be a peculiarity of the FTP app I chose).

    In this case with a cable (USB-A to to USB-C) I do have to specifically allow file transfer in settings. Then, using simple-mtpfs I can do what you mention, mount it like a drive.

    Thanks for taking the time to answer.

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