Google offers a vast repository of ebooks via Google Books. There’s the Google Books search engine and Google Play Books store. Both services let you save copies of books so you can read them offline. So here’s how to download books from Google Books.
Google Books Search Engine
Firstly, let’s look at how to download a book from Google Books for free.
What Is the Google Books Search Engine?
The Google Books search engine has been around since 2004. It lets you search more than 30 million titles, each of which Google has scanned and converted into text using OCR. Several magazines are also included.
When you click on a search result, you’ll see the scanned pages, information about the book (such as author, publication date, and blurb), and links to buy the title in either ebook or print form.
You can also add your own review and save the book to your library.
Can You Download Any Title on Google Books for Free?
No. Each title on Google Books is assigned one of four access levels. They are:
- No Preview: If Google has not yet scanned the book, you will not be able to see any of its text. You will, however, still have access to its metadata and ISBN.
- Snippet: If Google does not have the necessary copyright permissions, you will be able to see up to three snippets of text. The snippets show a few sentences on either side of a specific query. No snippets are shown for reference books like encyclopedias and dictionaries.
- Preview: Most books on Google Books fall into the Preview category. They are available for books that are still in print and for which Google has expressed permission from the copyright owner. If a book is in the Preview category, you will be able to browse a variable number of pages. All the pages are watermarked, and you cannot download, save, or copy them.
- Full View: Google assigns the Full View category to books that are no longer in print and which are in the public domain. A small number of in-print books are also included. This is the only category from which you can download books from Google Books.
How to Download Books From Google Books
So, how do you download books from Google Books that are in the Full View category?
Unless you know which out-of-print title you want, we’d recommend using the Google Books Advanced Search feature. It lets you enter several specific parameters, one of which is the category of the book. Obviously, you need to choose Full View.
You can also enter keywords, preferred publishers, authors, ISBNs, ISSNs, and titles. When you’re ready, hit the Google Search button in the upper right-hand corner.
From the list of results, click on the title of the book you’re looking for. The book’s information page will load. You can find the download link in the upper left-hand corner. It is labeled as EBOOK—FREE.
By hovering over the link, you can see which devices you can read the book on, and which additional features (such as flow reading and scanned pages) the book supports.
When you click on the link, you’ll receive an additional prompt to confirm your decision. Select Read, and the book will become available in the My Books section of the Google Play Store. To download it, click on the three dots on the listing and select Download PDF or Download EPUB (depending on availability).
Google Play Books
Google Play Books is Google’s ebook store. It’s the second-largest ebook shop on the web behind Amazon. It offers more than six million titles for purchase. You can also use the platform to buy audiobooks and rent textbooks.
How to Download Books From Google Play Books
Google Play Books lets you download any book you own so you can read it offline. The options available to you will vary depending on whether you bought the book of if it was free.
If you have free ebooks in your library (either because you saved them using from Google Books using the previous method or you took advantage of a free ebook offer on the store itself), you can download a PDF or EPUB version of the file. You can then copy, reproduce, and share the file as you wish.
For paid books, however, you can only download a copy onto your device for reading when offline. You will not be able to access the PDF or EPUB file.
To download the books, you will either need the Google Play Books smartphone app (for mobile devices), or the Chrome browser and the Play Books extension from the Chrome Web Store (for desktops).
Download Google Play Books on Android or iOS
To download a book onto your mobile device, follow the instructions below:
- Grab a copy of the free Google Play Books app from the appropriate app store.
- Ensure your device has an internet connection.
- Tap on the Library tab at the bottom of the screen.
- Tap on the book you want to save for offline reading.
The download process will start automatically. When it’s finished, you will see a tick appear on the book’s thumbnail.
To see which books you have already downloaded from Google Play, go to Menu > Downloaded Only.
Download Google Play Books on Windows and Mac
If you’d prefer to download a book on your desktop machine instead, use these instructions:
- Download Google Chrome for your preferred operating system.
- Download the Google Play Books web app for Google Chrome.
- Open Chrome and access the Google Play Books app.
- Find the book you want to download for offline reading.
- Hover your mouse over the book’s thumbnail and click on Make available offline.
If you want to remove the book in the future, just untick the same checkbox.
Other Ways to Download Free Books Online
The methods described in this article will help you to ensure you always have plenty of reading material to hand, even if you’re going to be offline for an extended period of time.
And remember, Google Books is not the only place where you can find free ebooks. If you’d like to learn more, here are some websites with free ebooks that don’t suck and the best websites to get free ebooks.