Google's Play Books service launched last year as a competent reading app, and a necessary pillar for Google Play. But one feature readers have since been asking for is the ability to incorporate their own files into the library, and now Google is adding that option to the service.


 2013-05-15 15.39.28 w

Play Books supports PDF and EPUB files, which can be uploaded through the online library on your desktop. The feature appears to still be rolling out, so don't worry if you get a 404 right now. For comparison, Amazon's Kindle service has long supported uploaded content, but it relies on awkward email attachments. Kindle does accept more file formats, though.

Also in this update:

  • Tweak to the in-app library
  • Table of contents view
  • Delete confirmations
  • Recommendation pages at the end of books.
  • Stability and performance improvements

The section for uploaded books can be found in the drop down under My Books in the app. So get to it and make use of those mountains of (legally obtained) EPUBs you have sitting around.

[Thanks, @WinDroidGuy]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Omar Al Matar

    YES YES YES <3

  • http://www.mscha.nl/ Michael Schaap

    One of the many, many, many releases and announcements today that are only relevant to a select number of countries. :-(

  • Andy

    YESS <3 ~~~~~ /faints.

  • Jonathan Grubbs

    I have been waiting for this feature since day one!

    • Mjfit1


    • http://twitter.com/Progress_4_USA Progress

      Me too!

    • http://twitter.com/perfecto Perfecto

      "Search (Unavailable for uploaded books)" .... Wat?

      • http://www.elijahlynn.net/ Elijah Lynn

        I run into this issue constantly! I suspect it has to with politics and not technological capability. It sucks.

  • Marc

    Is it possible to get an APK? Iets bot available in my country...

    • Mjfit1

      I believe it comes in apk form through google play

      • squiddy20

        He meant from an external source so he could sideload it. Smartass.

  • Amer Khaznadar

    Well, that was fast. I got the notification of the update, refreshed AndroidPolice (which I opened less than 2 minutes ago) and this article shows up!
    I didn't post right away because I was putting the app to the test. And now I can say:
    It would have been a lot more practical for me if the app supported directly loading epubs/pdfs from the phone. That said, I've just finished uninstalling the reader that I've been using.

    • Andrew Richards

      What reader were you using?

  • lljktechnogeek

    And I just bought a Nexus 7 today, too.


  • Merri Mogridge

    I really wish this was fully implemented in Ireland! I can access and view everything on books.google.com fine but all the Play Store links give me the 'not available in your country yet' message.

  • RitishOemraw

    Why is it not available outside of the US?
    I want to read my own epub file books....can I please just upload them to read on my phone?

    • Mike Reid

      Maybe so Google Legal has time to ensure the agreements pass the copyrights or some similar rights to Google after X years ?

      I just get suspicious given the conflicts that have gone on between Google and some book copyrights owners.

  • Cptsmidge

    And 404... :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/max.geier1 Max Geier

    Goodbye Aldiko, Hello Play Books <3

    • http://twitter.com/Progress_4_USA Progress

      Goodbye everything! Hello Google! lol

      • http://www.facebook.com/max.geier1 Max Geier

        Well Played!

  • Brainimpact

    I got it in the UK pushed to my HTC One over an Hour ago so it is available outside US

    • Merri Mogridge

      Yeah according to Google "Books are available to purchase in the Google Play Store for users in Australia, Canada, Spain, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, India, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, France, Russia and the United States." Pity they're not in Ireland yet! I can install the app and view my books online (3 default ones) and even read them but I still can't upload my own ones or access the Books category on the Play Store to get more.

      • RitishOemraw

        Same here In the Netherlands....wish I could just upload my own books and browse the free books...... :(

        • Nasko Hristov

          I am wondering the same question, why they don't make tha apps Movies, Magazines, Books, Music international avaiable so that we can use them, but buying itself for the contries that are possible now? I am currently using Music by faked credit card, why I have to do this?

  • Dan Bennett

    In Germany using a UK Google account through the .com domain. Don't have the 'Uploads' menu item and going to https://play.google.com/books/uploads manually is a 404.

    This makes me sad.

    • Combo

      I've got it in Germany using my german Account ;)

      • Dan Bennett

        Just checked after reading your comment and it's there now. Must have appeared for me at some point during the night :P

  • TJ

    This is a great step, but my initial test drive seems to show that highlighting/notes are not active on uploaded books. Until that happens, it will be very limited in usefulness :/

  • Freddy

    epub? =)

    • cptsmidge

      Yup, epub

  • Mjfit1

    You should check out Evernote. Used it all through school... Great note taking, book sharing App

  • wizkid

    This will definitely increase piracy.

    • Amer Khaznadar

      Oh yeah of course, because there was absolutely no other bazillion way to read epubs before this...

      • Floss

        Let's be clear that I am not trying to defend wizkid's statement, but being able to upload books and easily pull them to your local devices wherever you are is way different then being required to move them individually to a folder to read on your local devices. I have been hoping Kindle would do this for a while so I could use their sync service for my own books as well.

        • http://www.google.com/profiles/moneta.mace Mace Moneta

          Um, Dropbox? Or one of the dozen other Android/Desktop sync apps?

          • Floss

            I have yet to use one of them that was actually easy and nice to use. But to each their own.

          • http://www.google.com/profiles/moneta.mace Mace Moneta

            With Dropbox on your desktop, drag and drop your book to the Dropbox folder you want to use. On your mobile device, open Dropbox and tap your book - it opens in your reader. It's as simple as can be.

        • http://www.facebook.com/sfreemanoh Steve Freeman

          Kindle DOES let you do that. And sync works on your uploaded files.

          • Floss

            Ah sweet I didn't know that! I will have to try it out.

    • shonangreg

      Jees wiz kid. You ever hear of the printing press? Sometimes a huge world of good comes with some downsides. We'll never have 100% compliance on IP laws; we never have. We can't judge every advance against that standard.

      Besides, any piracy going on through google play is going to be more centralized and more public. IP cops should be glad to see this.

  • Metallinatus

    And it looks like Ron's wish is being granted, 'cause both Play Books and Play Music got the new design that he praised so much on his review last week....

  • tokcho

    is it only me, or does everyone see "testing options" in android app's the menu?

    • http://www.standupforkids.org blackroseMD1

      It's there for me too.

    • Amer Khaznadar

      Someone must have uploaded the wrong version initially. I also had that but a second update that came soon after removed it.

  • http://twitter.com/JazzEspresso JazzEspresso

    don't get 404, but what I got is I am missing "Uploads" option from left menu.
    is it only me?? any of you got the same issue?

    • http://profiles.google.com/jhc.starner Justin Cessna

      Same here.

    • http://twitter.com/tekchic Shari Morehead

      Same here. I'm in the US as well. I do get a 404 when I try to visit the url that has "Uploads". And in play.google.com/books, there's no link or option to upload. Controlled roll-out perhaps?

  • behi

    getting "404. That’s an error." in the US!

  • Sergio

    And new UI! Now it's like Shopper and Earth! Google, could you have a talk with the hangouts app designers? ;)

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/moneta.mace Mace Moneta

    It's still much easier to use Dropbox and a book reader with integrated support, like Moon+ Reader. Google needs to step up their Google Drive integration and clients. When Dropbox is trivially easy and full featured on Linux while Google Drive doesn't even exist, there's a problem.

    • Rohin Galhotra

      The difference is that Google Play Books is 100000000000000000000000000000000 times better than any other ebook reader I've tried for Android.

      • http://www.google.com/profiles/moneta.mace Mace Moneta

        I prefer the new Moon+ Reader over Google Books. It's much better and much more configurable.

        • Ben Kuskopf

          On the other side it means i can read books on my iPad at home and pick it up at the same spot through the browser at work or on my phone. Which is an awesome feature for me personally.

          • http://www.google.com/profiles/moneta.mace Mace Moneta

            That is functionality that has been available with third-party readers (like Moon+ Reader), which I mentioned. They store the bookmarks, as well as the books, on cloud services like Dropbox. They also integrate dictionaries for word lookup, like ColorDict (which include audio pronunciation), annotations, and many other features still missing from Google Reader. In testing on my platforms, Google Reader was also much slower in initial document open and page rendering. It's a step in the right direction for Google, but it's not yet a competitive product.

          • Rico Stapel

            I am still trying to figure out how to get annotations made in Moon+ Reader to display on my PC. Tried dropbox, dropsync, calibre companion etc. I hate loosing my highlights and annotations all the time and reviewing books on a large screen surely beats my mobile. Google play books certainly addresses this issue. I would go with another solution if I could find it.

          • Vikarti Anatra

            One possible way is using Moon+'s ability to share highlights. Just share them to mail or Evernote. and sync with desktop. Unfortunly it's one way thing.
            May be you should check bookmate.com?(web-based reader + mobile apps + ability to upload your own EPUB/FB2 files )

      • Vikarti Anatra

        Only thing it's better is that PlayBooks allows for really no hassle sync no matter where (web, iOS, Android). Moon+ doesn't allow that. But PlayBooks doesn't have many really basic things which EVERY other reader have: like ability to find all books by specific author (it tries to search Google Play Books Store, even if author is not on Play Store at all), no way to search uploaded files. No way to export book highlights, no way to change sort order,etc

  • rap

    Google Play books doesn't have the selection that Amazon Kindle app has or at least not that I can find. The browsing to find a book is terrible if you don't like the staff picks. Amazon has a lot of free books but not very many on Google Play Books.

  • Adarsh Melukote

    404.....why?!?!?!?! I want dat upload!

  • http://goodevilgenius.org/ Dan Jones

    I like it, but having to upload any files I want through the web interface is kind of a hassle. They need an API, so I can write a calibre plugin to allow me to upload straight from my calibre library to my Google Play Books library.

    • moon god

      its actually really easy. when you click "upload files" a dialogue appears, where you can drag and drop files to upload.

      just open calibre, highlight all the books you want to upload, and drag and drop.

      • DigiCowboy

        Nice - works great!

  • udnaan

    It's rolling out gradually guys. One of my account has it, the other one doesn't. Just keep your panties on.

    • udnaan

      The second account got it just a minute ago. Also for someone calling it clunky or slow to upload, its not the traditional interface. Essentially you can drag your whole library to the dialog in on go.

  • Nasko

    Guys, I have a problem, I am outside US, but even with proxy, my profile is declined, is there a way to upload some? Or new profile?

    • Nasko Hristov

      I have the same question, why google google, why are you seperating people on nationatily :(

    • http://twitter.com/nasasuke Nasaruddin Hamzah

      same happen here . any idea guys ?

  • http://twitter.com/sietai Hypothetical Ricotta

    There seems to be a filesize limit.

    • Nasko Hristov

      50MB, I saw somewhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sfreemanoh Steve Freeman

    I'm all for criticizing something if it deserves it...but if you find e-mail attachments awkward, you may want to look at yourself as the cause.

  • Daniel

    So just uploaded 4 pdfs and started syncing them to my phone, ended up one 2mb book became a 500mb file in Play Books, and used 600mb of mobile data downloading them. Doesn't seem quite right :S

  • Guest

    "Search (Unavailable for uploaded books)" ... Wat?

  • Ron Morrissette

    Does anyone know what folder my "upload files " sync to on my nexus 7 (2013)