How to Upload ePub and PDF Files to Google Play Books

Along with Amazon's Kindle platform, Google Play Books is one of the few ebook platforms which will let you upload your own ebooks to its servers and then download them and read them in an app.

I was recently asked for help on how to upload the files, so I thought it would be useful to document the steps involved and share them.

I don't use Google Play Books for my main reading app, but I have uploaded several ebooks, and I can tell you that their are 3 different ways to go about it.

You can upload ebooks via your:

  • iPhone/iPad
  • Android device
  • Web browser

Limitations

Before we get to the instructions, let's first cover the limitations.

  • Epub/PDF: Only PDF and Epub files can be uploaded, and not any other type.
  • DRM: You can't upload ebooks with DRM; Google won't let you (according to Google's own troubleshooting guide).
  • File Size: Only files smaller than 100MB can be uploaded.
  • A Thousand And One: Google will only let you upload 1,000 files.

 

Web Browser

Perhaps the easiest way to upload files is through the web browser on your PC.

To start, you'll need to have an account with Google.

Open the My Books page on Google Play Books, and look for the upload button.

google play books upload web browser 1

After you click the button, you should see a window like this. You can click the button and select the file you wish to upload, but I like to open a folder in another window and  simply drag the files from one window to my web browser. It's convenient and simple.

google play books upload web browser 2

Once you've uploaded the files, you'll need to wait a while for the upload to finish. If you have a large file, this can take a while.

And once the file has been uploaded, you should be able to read it in your web browser.

iPad/iPhone

In addition to uploading through your computer's web browser, you can also upload on your iDevice.

You'll need to have the Google Play Books app installed first, and you'll also need to have logged into your Google account before you try to upload a file.

Oh, and just so you know, there's no option for selecting an ebook from inside Google Play Books and choosing to upload it. You'll need to choose the ebook while you're in Safari or another app and select the option to open the ebook in the GPB app.

Simply download the file with Safari or another web browser and choose Google Play Books as the app with which you want to open the file:

google play books upload ios 1

That will cause the app to open, and you will be prompted to upload the file:

google play books upload ios 2

The actual upload process will take some time, depending on the file size and your internet.

Android

You can upload an ebook to Google Play Books from your Android, but like the process for iDevices this process does have a few quirks. You'll need to have the GPB app installed first, and you'll need to find the ebook in another app and choose to upload it to GPB.

And if you are uploading a PDF, you'll first need to go into the GPB app and enable the option before you try to upload the file.

Once you've down that, find the ebook you wish to upload in a file manager, your download folder, etc. Select it, and you should be prompted with the option to upload the ebook to GPB.

google play books upload android 2

Choose that option, and the ebook should be uploaded automatically.

Addendum: How to Read Your eBooks

Once you've uploaded your ebooks, you can read them in your app or web browser  almost immediately, but before you do that you might want to also take the extra step of downloading the ebook.

One of Google's less endearing quirks is that they don't automatically download an ebook when you read it. Instead, they'll send you bits and pieces of an ebook as you read it.

If you want to use your mobile device to read an ebook offline, you'll need to specifically tell the Google Play Books apps to download the ebooks. Luckily, the process is pretty simple.

Simply find the ebook you wish to download, and press the "3 dot" menu icon. This will bring up a menu for the ebook.

Here's what the menus look like on Android and the iPad:

google play books upload ios 3  google play books upload android 3

 <- iPad

Android ->

 

As you can seem on Android the option is labeled "keep on device" while on the iPad the option is appropriately labeled "download".

Troubleshooting

If you have questions, the comment section is open. But you might also want to head over to the forums; that might be the better venue for tech support.

About Nate Hoffelder (11598 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

11 Comments on How to Upload ePub and PDF Files to Google Play Books

  1. forums = 404

  2. Does this support an equivalent of Amazon Whispersync?

    • I double checked, and I think it does. My reading position in the web browser was synced to the Play Books app on my Android tablet.

      Just to be clear, I did not buy this ebook from Google, and I just now opened it on the Android tablet for the first time. And the location synced.

      Just a second while I try to see if bookmarks sync.

      Annotations (highlight, note, bookmark) also synced.

      • Good news Nate…

        Until now, I have passed on some very attractive eReaders, because of the absence of an autosync facility.

        I currently read on my Kindle and my iPhone and iPad Mini, the last two using Kindle apps. The books are from a mixture of Amazon and other sources. The Whispersync facility is important to me in that scenario.

        It would seem I can now start to review my eReader options.

  3. Just to be clear, I don’t think you can’t actually download the books you uploaded, in their original file form.

    You can only read them online via the Google Book app/webapp – however, once you’ve uploaded them there, they’re stuck in Google Books.

  4. Thanks! My books weren’t showing at the library, now I just uploaded via web browser. Thanks again!

  5. Who all could get access to my uploaded books?

  6. Yes…can I give access to my uploaded pdf’s to anyone? I have pdf files I have created myself I would like to share through my website.

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