I went to Barnes and Noble on Monday and plopped down my gift card and an extra $35 for a Nook Simple Touch. I chose this device because it's rather cheap, is notoriously easy to pwn and actually has good reasons to be pwned.
The first thing I found when I went root this thing is there's a bunch of pages out there that tell you how to do it, and no real central place with a run down of exactly what needs to be done. There were many different XDA forum threads, but as forums tend to be there wasn't a dedicated "top level" to cascade out to what you need to do. Hopefully my links below can act as a top level for someone.
I'm not going to give a lot of step-by-step instructions, the links will do that. I'm just trying to bridge it all together and cut out some guessing for you. I'm going to get very long winded - I'm even journaling things that failed for me here. I'm leaving some "hey look here" colored notes if you're just looking to cut to the chase.
The first, easiest thing I found was a Life Hacker page which looked like a great hand hold. It gave a link to nooter which actually succeeded with some issues. My factory firmware was probably just a little too recent for it. After following the incredibly simple directions (I already knew how to use dd thank you very much) I had a nook that went into "Boot Loops".
I then did some searching and managed to find the n2T-Recovery. It worked - mostly? According to what I had read it's supposed to restore your Nook to a factory state. My Nook booted right back up, still registered AND it did it to an Android desktop! It worked great, no problems - but not restoring it to factory sort of worried me considering what it was supposed to do , so I kept playing around and digging. You don't have to stop fixing it just because it works right?
I looked for a better "factory restore" option. I found one! [NST]Touch-Formatter v2, and to make things even better it uses Clockwork Mod! Now they're speaking my language. I used the heck out of Clockwork Mod on my old Evo 4G WiMax. All the instructions you need are on the link. It booted up again just like the first time I used it when I turned it back on after this.
This paragraph has good advice even you're just cutting to the chase.
If you make a Clockwork Mod card keep it. Use a small one if you have one, I'm using a 2GB card I found that came with a camera. I never used it before and I've had it for several years, it's the perfect size for this, there was even a 2GB card option. If you keep your Clockwork Mod card instead of following the directions to make one at nearly every link I give from here down you can just dump the zip file onto the same card and select it instead of the previously used zip.
I continued playing. I wound up using Tiny Nooter and having some success but trouble with getting the Google Market to work (the Nook runs way to old of a version of Android for the rebranded Play Store). I did get the Amazon Market and Kindle reader working on this version, but I had trouble with "Non Market App" issues - I used ADB to do my installing. More on that later.
Here's where the important stuff begins:
Finally - more digging and I found pay dirt. I found Glow Nooter. This is the one I stuck with - it's called Glow Nooter because it's meant for the back-light version of the Nook, which I don't have but they're basically the same hardware so it's the one to go with. I failed on this one at first. Remember the restore program? It left me with a 1.x version of the firmware and I had to restore all over again (I got smart this time I started using the backup option in Clockwork Mod after every major step this time, and yes I had to do one restore).
Now - some things to cover if you do this on your own:
There is no Market version of the Play Books reader that will work on your Nook Simple Touch. Most people recommend using Aldiko or Moon+ or something else. I didn't want to mess with all of those, I wanted something that would connect directly to my Google Account and interface with the management I do on my PC instead of using Calibre (which is an awesome tool you should have around anyways). I like being in the cloud too much to use something else, if you find that one of these WILL connect to the Google cloud please let me know and I'll consider switching. The Play Store didn't seem to want to serve up a working version so I found an archive. I'll narrow it down for you, the latest version on that page isn't, they just haven't updated the page and that version is too new, 1.2.2 is the one that worked for me. I grabbed recent books from Google Play in December and they all work fine in this reader, though I don't promise all new books will work.
Amazon has either updated to the point the Nook isn't compatible or intentionally excluded it in their latest app versions. 18.104.22.168 was recommended somewhere I lost track of but works great. I recently bought The Hobbit 75th Anniversary edition that has enhanced content for the Kindle Fire line of tablets, it worked fine. Granted a lot of the extras, including audio which it does not support, on my Kindle Keyboard or my up to date Android phone either. I blame Amazon wanting to sell Kindle Fires more than anything.
The settings program on your Nook is the one that came with it, it completely replaces the one that comes with Android stock. I'm going to suggesting adding Root App Delete from the Play Store. (yes, you can install this one the easy way) so you can undo program installs easily after you decide you don't want that one anymore.
Some usage tricks:
The Kindle app has an option to let you turn pages with the volume buttons, there is a program in your system programs that allows you to assign the hard buttons on the Nook to volume buttons. You can easily reprogram the buttons on your Nook to do page turns, however they will no longer work for actual Nook Books - the Google one remains untested. Make your own decision there. You can page turn on all three readers with a screen swipe or just touching the edge of the screen, which seems to be what I've found myself doing, and is the default way of doing it on many newer readers like the Kindle Paper White anyways. Just another note - if you use the built in Nook program to switch the back/next buttons if you do the identical mirroring in this program it will swap them back.
Something that bothered me at first. After hitting the "n" button and going back to Nook mode I couldn't figure out how to get back to the Android launcher (you don't actually install Android when you root, the Nook already has that, you just put the launcher and other tools on). If you'll look along the right edge of the screen you will see a feint tiny arrow on a tab that's easily overlooked. If you hit it you'll see the buttons that are usually at the bottom of an Android phone. Use those and hit the home button. The program is called Button Savior and it's in the tray, I recommend configuring it to have one of the high-contrast for eInk theme's available in the options menus and enable auto-hide after click.
When you're not actually in a full screen app or the Nook side of things there's a back arrow and menu button top center of the screen so you don't have to over-rely on Button Savior.
If you decide to sit down and read a book it may be wise to turn off WiFi to save battery. I don't know how much effect just having the desktop and other utilities on your machine will affect it, but I use a less is better philosophy for battery reasons. I even un-installed the Amazon App Store to keep it from checking for updates since the Kindle App works fine without it. I can put it back later if I need it.
ADB is the Android Debugging Bridge, which is part of the Android SDK. It lets you do things to your phone from your computer. I'm not going to give a big long lesson in using a command prompt or a terminal but I'm going to give you a very quick run down of how to install the APK's I linked to from your PC.
First install the SDK if you don't already have it and download the platform-tools.
At this point I'm assuming you know enough about a command prompt to navigate to the platform-tools directory on your own computer in a command prompt. I'm not going to tell you how if you don't know, because if you don't know I don't want you blaming me when you mess up the next steps.
I saved all the APK files I wanted to install in the platform tools directory. Sloppy of me I know, yes, but at least I know where they are if I need them again, and I delete ones I'm certain I'll never need again. It also allows me to be lazy when I don't put adb in my search path.
In your programs on your nook (make sure wireless is on) there's an adbWireless icon. Hit it and click the stupid big button. It will give you an IP address and a port.
On your PC type "adb connect 192.168.XXX.XXX:5555" or whatever IP and port the stupid big button gave you. Without the quotes.
Then type "adb install ReallyAwesomeProgram.apk" If you can't figure out what I meant by that you don't need to be doing this. These instructions work on every operating system - I intentionally avoided using slashes to keep it that way.
The copy of Google Talk that came with this failed to bring up the keyboard, SwiftKey didn't work, I didn't try really hard, and I'm yet to try other messengers and I'm thinking I won't at this point even though it's why I originally wanted to root a Nook to begin with.
When you hit "Home" and when your Nook first boots you'll be asked if you want to go to the ADW launcher (Android) or the Nook desktop. DO NOT make the Nook desktop default with the check mark. If you do I'll let you figure out how to get back to the Android desktop on your own because it will change the action of the Home button from that point forward. You can safely make it ADW.
If you found this useful, please let me know. If you play with the other readers I didn't please let me know if one of them actually works with my Google Account - I would quickly ditch the out of date Books reader for an up-to-date 3rd party reader given the option - just to have something current. If you hose something up I didn't give many directions anyways, I just sorted out links other than the quick adb run-through.