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Google Play Books isn’t just for eBooks purchased from Google; you can easily upload your own ePub or PDF eBooks that sync with Play Books and are accessible from all your Android devices and even on the Web.

Where To Get DRM-free eBooks

First things first: you’re going to need some eBooks that don’t have Digital Rights Management (DRM) on them, although you can break the DRM How To Break The DRM On Kindle eBooks So You Can Enjoy Them Anywhere How To Break The DRM On Kindle eBooks So You Can Enjoy Them Anywhere When you pay Amazon some money for a Kindle eBook, you probably think it’s yours now. I mean, you paid some money, you got some content, and now you have it, just like any other... Read More if you already have some eBooks with it.

Essentially, DRM on an eBook prevents you from copying it, transferring it to a different device, or altering it in any way. We have a more in-depth article on what exactly DRM is and how it works What Is DRM & Why Does It Exist If It's So Evil? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is DRM & Why Does It Exist If It's So Evil? [MakeUseOf Explains] Digital Rights Management is the latest evolution of copy protection. It’s the biggest cause of user frustration today, but is it justified? Is DRM a necessary evil in this digital age, or is the model... Read More , but for our purposes, that’s all you need to know. Unfortunately, most major publishers and retailers slap DRM on their books, but there are some DRM-free stores out there.

Google Play Books only supports ePubs and PDFs right now, so make sure to download the correct file type. ePubs are much easier to read than PDFs generally because they’re scalable and customizable, while PDFs function similar to viewing an image of a page.

Smashwords

Smashwords

Smashwords is a wonderful place to find independently published books, which means they’re either self-published or published by a small press. I know that might sound scary, but they have some surprisingly quality content for cheap.

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Baen Ebooks

Baen

This is one of the largest collections of small press eBooks out there, plus you can get eARCs here — electronic advance reader copies — to get access to (unedited) books before they’re officially released. There’s a nice variety of genres available.

Tor

Tor Focusing on science fiction and fantasy stories, Tor went DRM-free a while ago Tor Books To Be Released DRM-Free [Updates] Tor Books To Be Released DRM-Free [Updates] Read More and hasn’t looked back. For lovers of these genres, it’s a no-brainer.

O’Reilly Media

Oreilly

O’Reilly might stand out to all our nerdy tech fans out there; they have only technology-related books. Definitely a niche site, but worth a look if that’s your calling.

Weightless Books

Not the most beautiful website in existence, but there is a wide range of genres and a $1 eBook section for inexpensive reading. Also, the books are “weightless” because they don’t have DRM. Get it?

Project Gutenberg

Free eBooks! They’re all public domain, which means they’re really old, but many of the classics, like Pride and Prejudice, are here for free.

Upload On The Web

Once you’ve got your ePub or PDF file, it’s time to upload it to Google Play Books. If the file is on your computer, start here; if it’s on your Android device, skip to the next section. The end result of both is that your book is saved in the cloud and accessible from either the Web or Android. However, do take note that you can’t redownload your uploaded books, so be sure to keep a backup if you want to hang onto them and use them on other services than Google Play Books.

First, visit play.google.com/books. In the upper right there is a blue button called “Upload files.” Click this.

Google-Play-Books-Web-2

A window should pop up in the middle with options to upload from your computer or Google Drive. From here, you can drag and drop files or select some from your computer.

Play-Books-Upload

Once the upload is complete, congratulations!  Your eBook is now uploaded to Google Play Books.

Upload From Android

If you’re coming from Android, the experience is a bit different. You can’t upload books from within the app, so you’ll need to locate the eBook in your file manager. Don’t have a file manager? We recommend ES File Explorer ES File Explorer - The Best File Manager For Android [Android] ES File Explorer - The Best File Manager For Android [Android] Android doesn’t come with a file manager. Google thinks file managers are part of the past – a complicated tool that we shouldn't need when our data is stored in the cloud and retrieved on-demand... Read More , available in the Play Store.

You could also find the file in your Downloads app if you downloaded it from the Internet. Additionally, if your eBook is saved in Google Drive, you can access it through that Android app.

Once you locate the file, select it and choose either “Share” or “Send,” unless you’re in Google Drive, in which case you just want to download it.

play-books-android-upload

The next thing you see should be a pop-up prompting you to “Upload to Play Books” and any other ePub/PDF reading apps you have installed. Go ahead and upload to Play Books.

Play-Books-Aldiko

Now head over to the Play Books app, and voila, your book is there! Regular eBooks are generally pretty small in size, so don’t worry about it using too much data unless you have some large graphics-heavy PDFs, in which case you’ll want to connect to Wi-Fi before uploading.

Unable to upload PDFs? Make sure to check the option in Play Books’ settings as shown below.

Play-Books-Settings-PDF-Upload

From the home screen, swipe in from the left to get to the settings, then check the “Enable PDF uploading” box.

Conclusion

With Play Books opening itself up to outside eBooks, it really makes the Google suite of apps that much more appealing. It’s refreshing to see that they’re at least trying to be somewhat open with their apps, rather than keeping it as a walled garden (though, again, it’s only “open” in the sens you can put books in — you can’t take books out).

Play Books for Android can be found on the Play Store or you can visit it on the Web.

What do you think of this neat little feature? Is it enough to get you using Play Books as your main eReading app? Let us know in the comments.

  1. Tinkicker
    May 9, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    I get that the books can't be downloaded...but can books I no longer want be deleted? Or maybe I shouldn't worry about that per se, since Google apparently (as indicated above) doesn't care how many I upload. But maybe what I'd really like to know is can I make the book invisible so I don't have a book I don't like in my listings?

    • Justin D
      May 10, 2014 at 12:15 am

      Yeah you can delete any books you don't want anymore from your collection entirely. Just click on the three dot icon in the upper right of the eBook you don't want anymore and as a part of the drop-down menu, one of the options will be Delete.

  2. Martin Cohn
    May 8, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Quite a handy feature. I uploaded a couple of epubs and it worked fine. Are the books stored opaquely (like in Google Music) without a size limit? I didn't see the books anywhere in my Google Drive, so I take it they don't count toward my space limit.

    • Justin D
      May 8, 2014 at 11:33 pm

      As far as I can tell, any books uploaded to Play Books do not seem to count towards your unified "Drive/Gmail/Google+ Photos" limit, just like in Play Music. Although Music tells you that you're limited to 20,000 uploads, but Play Books doesn't state any such limit. Maybe they're not so worried about people uploading thousands of eBooks that are already tiny in size?

  3. Pete S
    May 8, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    It looks good but BEWARE: Google Play Books will not accept an upload of any epub book that is over 100MB.

    • Justin D
      May 8, 2014 at 11:30 pm

      Interesting, thanks for letting us know! But I have to believe it's quite rare to have an eBook that large, yeah?

  4. Scott M
    May 7, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    I started using Google Play Books as my primary e-book reader about 2 months ago and it's working just fine for me. I generally upload my book purchased from other places using the web Uploads section. Light on features, but I think it really does the job and does it in a clean and simple way.

    • Jim
      May 8, 2014 at 7:11 pm

      Will I need a data connection to read my book, or will the books uploaded be sync'd to my device?

    • Scott M
      May 8, 2014 at 7:28 pm

      I found that I can see all the books but I do need data to download each one as i want to read it. I just do it over wifi.

    • Justin D
      May 8, 2014 at 11:29 pm

      @Scott, I agree! A really great lightweight eReader for using books purchased from other places.

      @ Jim, if you're reading on the Web, you'll need a data connection unless you download it and read it via a desktop app like Adobe Digital Editions. If you're reading on Android, you can "pin" the book which will save it locally for offline reading.

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