How to Upload Your Own E-Books to Google Play Books

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E-reader image

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Upload your EPUB and PDF books or documents to Google Play Books to store them online and use them from anywhere on any of your compatible devices. This process is similar to what Google lets you do with Google Play Music.

Steps to Upload Your Books

Uploading books to Google Play Books is done through the Google Play Books website. Books can be loaded from your Google Drive account or from your computer.

To import your e-books into Google Play Books:

  1. Open Google Play, select My Books, and log in to your Google account if asked.

    My books on Google Play Books screenshot
  2. Select Upload files to browse for the e-book.

    Upload files button on Google Play Books screenshot
  3. To upload a book from your computer, go to the Upload tab. Otherwise, look under My Drive to choose an e-book from your Google Drive account.

  4. Choose Select when you've chosen all the books you want to upload.

    Google Books upload screen with the Select button highlighted

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 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 missing feature is the ability to meaningfully organize these books with tags, folders, or collections. You can search for books in your library, but other than that they're only organized into separate sections: uploads, purchases, rentals, and samples.

Troubleshooting

If your books don't upload to Google Play Books, there are a few things you can check.

  • Is your book in a compatible format? Your e-book must be in EPUB or PDF format. If you have some other format, such as MOBI, convert it using a document converter program like Calibre. DRM-protected books are not supported.
  • Do you have too many books? Google currently only allows you to upload 1,000 books. 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. If you no longer have the original, download it from Google Play Books and then re-upload it to the correct account.

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 could only read books purchased from Google. The most requested feature for Google Books was some sort of cloud-based storage option for personal libraries.

In the early days of Google Play Books, you could download the books and put them in another reading program. You can still do that, but it has some disadvantages. If you use a local e-book reader app like ​Aldiko, 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 doesn't match the realities of today's e-book market to keep e-books offline. Most people who read e-books prefer to have their choice about where to purchase books but still be able to read them all from a single location.