Nook HD and Nook HD+

I just saw the fire sale of them today and it made me curious. I currently own an Nexus 7, and I probably won't be replacing it anytime soon, but I still want to know more about this.

Can they run stock Android? What's better and worse about Nook's software?
How is the hardware compared to the Nexus 7?

I really want Nook to succeed, because any monopoly is bad. I hope more non-tech people are being aware of the sale.