As promised at Google's recent event, textbooks have arrived in the Play Store. They have been tacked on as a sub-section of Play Books, not a completely new area of the store. At present, there is no way to filter within textbooks only, but search seems to work fairly well for finding books on a particular subject.

2013-08-08 15_36_40-Human Biology - Books on Google Play

Both rentals and purchases are showing up in the store, but most books are only offering one or the other. A handful of titles are listing both 180 day rental and full purchase prices, though. Free samples are also available for all textbooks.

There are discounts on all the non-rental books, and it does appear to place the cost a bit below what you'd pay on Amazon for the genuine article or the Kindle edition. However, Amazon offers more rentals and they're usually a bit cheaper than Google.

2013-08-08 15_46_37-Constitutional Law - Books on Google Play

2013-08-08 15_37_37-Advanced Organic Chemistry - Books on Google Play 2013-08-08 15_52_12-Manual of Critical Care Nursing - Books on Google Play

Textbooks can be read on a phone or tablet with the Google Play Books app, or on a computer through the browser. Some books can be transferred manually to an eReader like the Kindle, as well. Textbooks are only available for purchase in the US right now. No word on when, or if, they will expand to other countries.

[Google Play Textbooks]

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

  • Rob

    I'll definitely have to give this a try once I find out what books I need for grad school.

    • mesmorino

      I wouldn't.

      • Rob

        Care to elaborate? If not, that's fine too.

        • mesmorino

          I sorta kinda did... I posted a (much longer) comment if you scroll up

  • wolfkabal

    I'm glad more and more areas are offering digital books. But right now, even with Amazon offering digital rentals, buying the books and using the Amazon 'buy-back' still often results in better results.

    Call me old-school, but I prefer the feel of a real book as well. Not to mention some school test centers don't allow digital books where physical ones are allowed.

  • Sven Andresen

    kinda sad, because when i try access this link, i get a error.

    • Merri Mogridge

      An error on Google's behalf rather than AP. Even clicking the 'Textbooks' button on the Books homepage gives 'An unexpected error has occurred. Please try again later.' (https://play.google.com/store/books)

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        You're not from U.S. either, I'm assuming?

        • Merri Mogridge

          Nope. Just saw your reply to Sven, I must have missed the bit in the article about it being US only :).

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      "Textbooks are only available for purchase in the US right now."

      All other countries will see an error, even though the link will show up on the left side of the page (I tested UK and Canada and was surprised the Textbooks link was showing and just going to an error page). I'm guessing you're not from U.S.

  • kindrudekid

    Professor: So for this semester we are gonna be using The new edition for College algebra
    Me: But if we own the previous edition is it okay?
    P: Well yeh its fine , but you will miss out on a little bit of material
    M: What is there to miss out? Its algebra, it has been same for the last 1000 years. what can i possibly miss out, other than the excercise questions not matching for HW? I can just take a pic of that page from library and do it.
    P: ........

    • Jays2Kings

      The new edition squashes some bugs and speeds performance in the table of contents and index. It also adds support for dropouts.

    • apmechev

      Usually there are some changes in the assignment questions between editions. Other than that and fixing errors, there really is little difference between editions of any textbook that isn't in a cutting edge field.

  • Miah

    Please include 'US' in your heading, so we in the UK and Europe save our tears,

    • Russ Brown

      Don't be too upset. In the UK you don't have to endure being repeatedly raped by these "textbook" publishers semester after semester. At least, you didn't when I went to uni there, where it was mostly about photocopied handouts...

  • angel_spain

    Physical book: 90$
    Digital book: 65$
    Is anyone buying the digital text book? Seriously?

    • http://petercast.net Peterson Silva

      Well, you showed it yourself: it's cheaper. If you need it, why not?

      • Marcus

        Yeah but you can resell physical copies. Often for 50%, so the physical copy is only $45 in the end. That being said, I wish the digital was cheaper as I wanted to take that route this year.

        • http://petercast.net Peterson Silva

          Hmm it makes sense. Hadn't thought of that.

          • deltatux

            Sometimes, if there's an option to rent, it's a better deal. Many times, I never get anywhere close to what I paid for because either the edition is now old or course is no longer available as Randroid has stated but some used book buyers would still give you some money regardless to get it off your hands, not a lot that makes it worthwhile.

        • Randroid

          True, IF there isn't a new edition that's available at the end of the semester. And IF the course is offered next semester. And IF they haven't already stock piled enough used copies for next semester... I think you see how this goes.

          I successfully sold back probably 4 books in all of my college years. Even after going to off-campus sellers. Normally I decided that the $5 that they were willing to give me for my $200 book wasn't worth selling it back. If you get back 50% of the initial cost back, you did better than I ever did.

          • Marcus

            I'd say I've sold close to 50% of the books I bought somewhere between 25%-50%, which maybe isn't a great deal for me, but I don't have infinite shelf space either.

        • Glich

          HA i whould be lucky to get 10-20 bucks for my $120 text books sometimes. its a scam!

      • angel_spain

        Not only for resale value. I'm engineer, and I can tell you that most of the times I've studied with at least 2 textbooks opened near me. Moreover, when you have to work is much more useful something you can physically handle that a pdf.

        In my opinion, textbook pdf are useful just to consult something in a certain moment, not as work tool. So it doesn't worth it.

  • Merags

    No music, no all access, no tv shows, no chromecast (yet), yay Canada!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Ray

      I thought it was bad living in Australia when it came to Google offerings. Living in Canada sounds like a damn nightmare!!!

      • Merags

        Pretty much!! I was so shocked/jealous when you guys got music and we didn't. I was sure we'd get it at the same time..

    • Marcus

      I am quite disappoint.

    • http://404err0r.com/ Henry Park

      Damn it I wanted to move to Canada -.-
      I live off of Google Services.. so I guess I should pick another one to move to.....

    • deltatux

      Yup, still waiting for those in Canada... Rather sad isn't it since US is literally across the border and they have every Google service.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Pretty sure it's to do with Canadian laws and governments, but I haven't looked into every country in detail.

      • Merags

        Yup probably, no one here I've talked about it in my Google+ networks knows exactly what it is either. Our best educated guesses are the CRTC and/or the requirement (in music/music videos) that a certain percentage of content be Canadian artists, and/or the requirement of French content? Oh well... someday hopefully.

    • Chroniq

      No music, no all access, no tv shows, no movies, no chromecast, no google play devices, no books, no textbooks, no magazines. Big hugs from Poland!!! ;)

  • mesmorino

    It's one thing to buy novels, but when it comes to essential reading material I'd rather they weren't DRM encrypted, thanks.

    The only reason I can see (and sure, there maybe more) for buying these is convenience (and maybe price). Convenience of not lugging about a huge textbook, having it readily available, etc etc. For me though, practicability trumps those. Not only can you scribble in hard copy textbooks, you can borrow, lend, and- this is the part I like - resell them. Plus, you don't need a device of some sort to read a textbook, just basic comprehension skills and good eyesight.

    I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything, and anyway I'm not against ebooks or something- I'd just rather they were not locked into some proprietary format or DRM locked. I have pdfs of a couple of my textbooks (two out of the three I didn't sell lol), and I can read those on any device that can read pdfs, online or offline.

    I bought A Storm of Swords off the play store and the play books app randomly decided to stop opening it (despite being saved on device). I had to finish reading it on my laptop, which entirely defeats the idea of it being available on my other devices.

    And then there was that other debacle with Amazon: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2012/oct/22/amazon-wipes-customers-kindle-deletes-account?CMP=twt_gu

    Apparently, Kindle content is licensed, not sold: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_200699130_storeTOU1?nodeId=201014950 (scroll down to 1. Kindle Content and read the first paragraph).

    I don't know about the rest of you guys but if I was a student (and I have *been* a student), I'd rather own my textbooks. If only to prevent some overzealous jobsworth from banning my account and locking me out of my books, or to avoid one of those glitches from crashing whatever device I'm using.You know those glitches, the ones that happen only to you, and at the worst possible time, those glitches that make your dialler force close repeatedly when you're waiting for a call back, or make the camera app freeze right when you're trying to take a picture of your baby smiling.

    • Rob

      Didn't see this earlier, so thanks for redirecting me. I agree with what you say. I didn't consider the DRM issue, but I have concerns with trying to read textbooks on an electronic device as it is not something I've done with great frequency before. For me, the interest in exploring digital versions was precisely for the reasons you cited - price and transporting convenience - as I rarely get around to reselling any of my books. ;)

  • solbin

    Until these come with the BS online passes for mymathlab, myprogramminglab, etc. It will still be too expensive to rent from this service rather than buying the book.

    Absolutely ridiculous that I can buy a book used for $30, but it isn't much of any use because it doesn't come with a pass. The new book that comes with the pass is near $200. It is such a scam :(

  • http://404err0r.com/ Henry Park

    I WAS SO LOOKING FORWARD TO USING Google Play Textbooks..... until I saw the fracking price.... I am buying a digital copy, unless u put fracking videos and other shitty gimmicks built into those eBooks I aint gonna paying that much......

  • iGamer777

    Sorry about your damn luck!

  • troph

    The issue with buying electronics things (music, books, movies) is the inability to resell your purchase. A textbook only really is the depreciation value, so a savvy buyer can recoup a lot of initial cost on resale.