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Google Play Books Reaches a Billion Installs – Are Your eBooks Available There?

366186107_a7bbd2c156_bGoogle Play Books might not get much love from the book publishing industry but it is proving far more popular with users.

Earlier this week the app reached a billion installs in Google Play. That’s one install  for each dollar Facebook spent on Instagram, or one install for (about) every seven people in the world.

Initially launched in late 2010, Google Play Books grew out of the Google Books book-scanning project as it slowly morphed from an effort to make all the world’s books searchable (a pre-Kindle goal) to selling those books (a post-Kindle goal). The store is now open for business in over 60 countries.

Along with Facebook and WhatsApp, Play Books is only the ninth app in Google Play to have the counter tick over into 10 digits. It passed the milestone before Games, Music, Movies, and Newsstand (which makes sense given that those other apps are considerably newer).

google play books billion installs

At this point I am sure some are remembering that Play Books comes pre-installed as part of Google’s bloatware, but I wouldn’t be so quick to discount today’s news. Google has said in the past that they don’t count pre-installed apps when reporting app downloads, and instead only count actual downloads.

On the other hand, I have found many complaints that Google’s reporting is notoriously inaccurate, so we might want to take this with a grain of salt.

That said, for the longest time I’ve been saying that Google Play Books does more business than the Nook Store. I first suggested that possibility in July 2014, and over the past 11 months Play Books installs continued to rise while Nook digital revenues continued to drop by 50% quarter after quarter (it’s down to $41 million at last report).

If that hypothesis wasn’t true in July 2014, it has to be true in June 2015. But unfortunately for me, I can’t prove it. Google still hasn’t told us how many ebooks they sell each quarter, and that leaves me in the position of having to ask a question and let you decide:

Do you think Google sold more or less than $41 million worth of ebooks in the first quarter?

With a billion installs, I don’t see how it could be less.

Android Police

image by Vala Run

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Feda June 9, 2015 um 11:33 am

Number of installs is meaningless. Android phones come with it preinstalled, but that doesn’t mean that people are actually using it.

fjtorres June 9, 2015 um 11:38 am

Every time they release a bug fix, they get a new wave of installs from the exact same users.

Anne June 9, 2015 um 2:45 pm

I don’t get it- If it’s pre-installed, why would you need to download it? Who is doing this downloading? Taking this with a grain of salt is good advice unless I’m missing something.

Regardless, it’s been on my various phones since sometime in 2010 and I’ve never even opened it. Despite the huge percentage of android devices vs others in my family, I don’t think anyone has bought books from Google even though most are big readers.

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Eduardo June 10, 2015 um 2:19 pm

We work in Brazil with self-pubs and, since our local Google Play Books launched, it sells more books than Kobo and Amazon, and the same as Apple.

David Gaughran June 12, 2015 um 4:52 am

If you are just talking about the US market, no. Nook’s market share is in freefall, but there’s no way in hell Google Play is equal in size to it. I would guess that most of Nook’s market share went to iBooks and the rest to Kindle. Anecdotally, I’m hearing from quite a few indies making headway on Google Play – and my own sales have finally come to life there – but the respective volumes would seem to indicate that it still has a long way to go before reaching parity with Nook. And there are huge issues on the publisher side that need to be resolved (no idea about consumer side).

Nate Hoffelder June 12, 2015 um 6:07 am

I never talk about national markets; that is 19th century thinking.

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