Google Play Books

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Google Play Books
Google Play Books icon.png
Developer(s) Google
Initial release December 6, 2010; 4 years ago (2010-12-06) (as Google eBooks)
Stable release 3.2.61 / November 11, 2014; 38 days ago (2014-11-11) (Android)
1.6.6 / September 30, 2014; 2 months ago (2014-09-30) (iOS)
Development status Active
Size 8.50 MB (Android)
20.0 MB (iOS)
Type Digital distribution, E-book reader
Google Play Books
Platforms Android, iOS, Chrome, Web
Format PDF, EPUB
Catalogue 4 million ebooks
Preview Free chapters from every book
Availability 61 countries
Features Free cloud storage of 1,000 books in PDF and EPUB formats

Google Play Books (formerly Google eBooks) is a cross-platform e-book application offered by Google. Users can download ebooks from Google Play, which offers over 4 million ebooks and as such is the world's largest ebookstore, or upload books in the PDF or EPUB formats. Unlike Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks, Google Play Books is based on an open platform. Google adopts Adobe Content Server 4 as the digital rights management (DRM) solution to protect copyrighted ebooks. Books can be transferred to and read on a number of e-readers and other devices and applications that support the Adobe eBook DRM via the Adobe Reader Mobile SDK.[1] These include the Nook and Sony Reader. As of now, ebooks cannot be transferred to Amazon Kindle devices, as they do not use Adobe's platform. Books can be downloaded in the PDF or EPUB format, and sometimes in both.[2] Transferring books to an e-reader requires the Adobe Digital Editions software to be installed on the computer.[3]

Books can also be read online on any web browser with JavaScript enabled.[4] Books can be read offline through official mobile apps for Android and iOS devices that were announced at the same time as the original Google eBookstore,[5] and on the Google Chrome browser on desktops through an HTML 5-based web app available from the Chrome Web Store.[6] Holding purchased books on the cloud theoretically allows Google to serve books to users in a variety of formats, including new formats that might not have been available at the time of purchase.

Publishers and authors can submit their books to Google through the Play Books Partner Centre. Apart from being able to buy the ebook from Google Play, customers can preview these books through Google Books. The publisher can set the percentage of the book available for preview.[7][8] Purchase of books from Google Play is currently supported in 61 countries.


The history of Google Play Books can be traced to the Google eBooks service offered by Google before the Google Play brand came into existence. The Google eBookstore was launched on December 6, 2010, in the United States as the world's largest ebookstore with over 3 million titles. The international editions of Google eBooks were to roll out beginning in early 2011. Google eBooks was launched after many months of speculation. The service was codenamed Google Editions, the name under which it was widely assumed that the service would be launched.[9][10] Google Books director Dan Clancy had talked about Google's vision to open an ebookstore for in-print books in an interview back in July 2009.[11] Then, TechHive had reported that the service would be launched in the first half of 2010,[12] and later cited a Google employee as saying that the launch would be in June or July.[13]

The store was headed by Dan Clancy, who also directed Google Books. Clancy stated that Google Editions will let publishers set the prices for their books and will accept the 'agency' model – that of the publisher being considered the seller and the online vendor acting as an 'agent'. It will also make ebooks available for bookstores to sell, giving “the vast majority” of revenues to the store. Having already digitized twelve million physical books at the time, including out-of-print titles, Google offered a far greater selection than Amazon and Apple did.[14]

Introductory reading features included selecting font, font size, line spacing, and day/night reading modes, and the ability to pick up reading positions while using multiple devices. Users could search for and buy ebooks from the Google eBookstore or get them from one of the independent bookseller partners, which included Powell’s, Alibris and participating members of the American Booksellers Association.[5]

On March 6, 2012, Google launched its new digital distribution platform Google Play, with the Google eBookstore becoming a part of it.


On May 15, 2013, Google updated the Google Play Books app on Android and iOS to add support for user uploaded PDF and EPUB files. Users can store up to 1,000 files free of charge on the cloud, as long as they are under 100 MB.[15][16]

Google Play Books features three reading modes:

  • Day: Black text on a white background
  • Night: White text on a black background
  • Sepia: Sepia (reddish-brown) text on a pale yellow background

Other reading options include choosing between multiple typefaces (including Sans, Serif, Merriweather, Sorts Mill Goudy, and Vollkorn) and adjusting the text size, line spacing and alignment. The screen brightness can be adjusted from within the app, or set to an "Auto" mode, which makes use of the system brightness. Users can add notes, highlight text and create bookmarks. These features, except for bookmarking and adjusting brightness, are not available for user uploaded PDF books. Play Books also features a 3D page turn effect which can be switched off. Notes and highlights in ebooks can only be accessed through the web reader or mobile apps, and not on e-readers.

Play Books can read aloud the text of books using the device's text-to-speech engine or via Google Text-to-Speech, when the publisher allows.

All items in the users' Google Play Books library also belong to the Google Books library where they are displayed in a bookshelf titled My Books on Google Play (formerly called My Google ebooks, before the Google Play branding came into effect). Google Play Books library, therefore, is a subset of the Google Books library.

On Android, the Read now section shows the recently opened books at the top. The My Library section shows all the books grouped into three categories: Purchases, Samples and Uploads. Books can be "kept on device" for offline reading.

On October 30, 2014, Google released an update for Google Play Books on Android adding a number of features specifically aimed at improving the user experience for long non-fiction books. These included a 'Skim' mode, which allows users to easily navigate through pages without having to endlessly flip through each page.


Books are available for purchase from Google Play in the countries marked in blue.

Purchase of books from Google Play is currently supported in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam.[17]


  1. ^ "Google adopts Adobe eBook DRM". Adobe. 6 December 2010. 
  2. ^ "Google eBooks Help". Changing Hands bookstore. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  3. ^ "Download & transfer books to eReaders". Google Play Help. Google. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "Supported reading devices". Google Play Help. Google. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Discover more than 3 million Google eBooks from your choice of booksellers and devices". Official Google Blog. Google. 6 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "Read books offline". Google Play Help. Google. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  7. ^ "Partner Centre overview". Google. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  8. ^ Stephanie Chandler (January 11, 2011). "How to Submit Your Book to Google Ebooks". Authority Publishing. 
  9. ^ Andrew Albanese (6 December 2010). "Google Launches Google eBooks, Formerly Google Editions". Publishers Weekly. 
  10. ^ "Google Editions Released as Google eBooks". Littlefish managed IT services. 6 December 2010. 
  11. ^ Frederic Lardinois (31 July 2009). "Google's Vision for the Future of Google Books: EBook Store, Google Editions". Readwrite. 
  12. ^ Ian Paul (16 October 2009). "Google Editions Embraces Universal E-book Format". TechHive. 
  13. ^ Jared Newman (4 May 2010). "Google to Launch E-book Store Early Summer". TechHive. 
  14. ^ Ken Auletta (26 April 2010). "Publish or Perish". The New Yorker. 
  15. ^ "Google Play Books enables user ebook uploads, Google Drive support". The Verge. 2013-05-15. Retrieved 2013-05-16. 
  16. ^ "Troubleshooting file uploads with Google Play Books". Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  17. ^ "Country availability for apps & digital content". Google. Retrieved 15 November 2014.