Sideloading ebooks into your e-reader app

by Rebekah Johnson

When purchasing an ebook from Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, and many other stores, your ebook file doesn’t actually come to you. It lives in “the cloud,” accessible only through your store account. While this system has its benefits – cross-device availability is a big one – some readers feel more comfortable with that file in their own possession, like a good old-fashioned paper book. Stores like eBooks.com and Fictionwise will sell you the actual file of the ebook, and many business web sites now offer informational ebooks for download. It’s up to you to figure out how you are going to read them.

Several Android reader apps offer options for what is called sideloading – the process of the user putting his or her content onto the phone and using one of the apps to read it. Apps like Aldiko allow you to sideload your files and read them along with any books you purchase from them. It’s just one more of the many ways Android keeps things open – and up to you.

Sideloading an ebook into Aldiko: Epub files only

Do this:

1. Connect your Android phone to your computer via USB. Make sure your connection indicates “Mount as Disk Drive.”

2. Open the root file of your SD card. You will see a folder called “ebooks.” Open it.

3. If there is not already a subfolder called “import,” you will need to create one. Now open it.

4. Find your ebook files on your computer. They must have the “.epub” file extension to work in Aldiko. If your files are not epubs, you can use a program to convert them. (See below.)

5. When your ebook files are in the “import” folder, safely eject your phone from your computer.

6. Open the Aldiko app. Press “menu” to bring up the bottom bar, and select “Import.”

7. Aldiko will scan the import folder you created and will bring any epub files you’ve placed into your library.

8. Your ebooks are on your bookshelf and ready to read!

The next time you want to sideload ebooks into Aldiko, don’t fret if your import folder has disappeared. When you import the books, they move to a different part of the database. Just make a new import folder and start again.

Aldiko is great for sideloading because the reading interface is very user-friendly. An app called txtr can be a good alternative if your ebooks are DRM-protected and will not open on Aldiko. txtr opens files that are DRM-protected and allows you to manage your imported books online, without connecting your phone to your computer.

Even Android apps have their limitations, and one of them is file type. Aldiko, txtr and several other ereader apps can only read certain types of files. The most universal format is called epub. A third-party program called Calibre can quickly and easily convert files for you, including PDFs, PDBs, RTFs, TXTs, and even those MOBI files you might have left over from your Palm days.

Happy reading!