How to Upload Your Own Ebooks To Google Play Books

Google Books Uploads
Books uploaded to Google Books. Screen Capture
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Yes, you can upload your personal EPUB and PDF books or documents into Google Play Books and store the books in your cloud for use on any compatible device. This is very similar to what Google lets you do with Google Play Music

Background

When Google first released Google Books and the Google Play Books e-reader, you couldn't upload your own books. It was a closed system, and you were stuck reading only books you'd purchased from Google.

 It shouldn't be surprising to hear that the number one feature request for Google Books was some sort of cloud-based storage option for personal libraries. That option exists now. Hooray! 

Back in the early days of Google Play Books, you could download the books and put them on some other reading program. You can still do that, but it has some disadvantages. If you use a local e-reading app, such as Aldiko (which is a great app), your books are also local. When you pick up your tablet, you can't continue the book you were just reading on your phone. If you lost your phone without backing up those books somewhere else, you also lost the book. 

It just doesn't match the realities of today's e-book market. Most people who read e-books would prefer to have their choice about where to purchase books but still be able to read them all from a single location.

Requirements

In order to upload books into Google Play, you need the following things:

  • A Google account
  • EPUB or PDF formatted e-books or documents
  • A legal right to own copies of those e-books or documents (i.e. you didn't pirate them)
  • Your files will need to either be on your computer or stored in Google Drive

Steps to Upload Your Books

Log into your Google account. It's best to use Chrome, but Firefox and modern versions of IE will work as well.

  1. Go to https://play.google.com/books
  2. Click on the Upload button on the upper right corner of the screen. A window will appear. 
  3. Drag items from your computer hard drive, or click on My Drive and navigate to the books or documents you want to include. 

Your items may take a few minutes to have cover art appear. In some cases, the cover art won't appear at all, and you'll have a generic cover or whatever happened to be on the first page of the book. There doesn't appear to be a way to fix that problem at this time, but customizable covers may be a future feature. 

Another feature missing, as of this writing, is the ability to meaningfully organize these books with tags, folders, or collections. Right now you can just sort books by uploads, purchases, and rentals. There are a few options for sorting when you view your library in a web browser, but those choices don't show up on your mobile device.  You can search by book titles, but you can only search content in books purchased from Google. 

Troubleshooting

If you find that your books do not upload, here are a few things to check. 

Is your book in a compatible format? Your book must be in EPUB or PDF format. It must not have any DRM. If you ended up with some other format, such as MOBI (Amazon Kindle format without the DRM) you can try converting it using a tool like Calibre.

 

Do you have too many books? Perish the thought, but Google currently only allows you to upload 1000. You might have to prioritize the documents you want to store in the cloud or figure out some way to juggle them between accounts. 

Are you logged into the correct Google account? If you upload a file, and it looks fine but later disappears, you probably uploaded it to the wrong account.