Google Play Books Overview Updated March 9, 2022

Google Play Books

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28 'Google Play Books' stories

September 2012 - March 2022

Google Play Books was originally conceived as Google eBooks in December 2010. In addition to being an eBook stor, Play Store allows users to upload documents in a variety of formats and have them synced between devices. Like Amazon Kindle and Apple’s iBook store, authors can self-publish and sell their works.

There is an official app for Android and iOS, as well as a rudimentary web interface. The apps have a number of features like highlighting, notes, and a night mode that adjusts to the time of day.

Google Play Books Stories March 9

Back in December, Google announced new widgets for Photos and YouTube Music. An updated widget featuring Material You for Play Books was also previewed and is now widely rolled out.

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Google Play Books Stories December 1, 2021

Following Gmail last week, Play Books, Google Photos, and YouTube Music are set to get new widgets on Android.

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Google Play Books Stories July 14, 2021

Google’s “Play” family of apps is now down to the Store, Games, and Books after the Google TV and YouTube Music revamps. An update to Google Play Books today adds the ability to create custom shelves for better content organization.

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Google Play Books Stories March 2, 2021

To mark National Read Across America Day, Google Play Books is getting a pair of tools to make the Android and iOS apps more friendly for kids and young readers. 

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Google Play Books Stories December 17, 2020

These free Play Store audiobooks use Google’s auto-generated narrators

Earlier this month, Google announced that it was using auto-generated narrators to make more audiobooks available. The Google Play Store now has a collection of free audiobooks created using this method.

Google Play Books Stories December 3, 2020

Today, only the top books get audio versions narrated by professionals given that recording is a time-consuming process that doesn’t necessarily scale to every published work. Google is now working on auto-generated narrators that can turn more books into audiobooks. 

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Google Play Books Stories January 23, 2020

Play Books for Android drops navigation drawer for Material Theme switcher

The last big update to Play Books saw the web client in August add beta features like “Custom shelves.” The Android app now has a Material Theme account switcher that replaces the navigation drawer.

Google Play Books Stories October 3, 2019

Google rolling out Play Books dark theme on Android

Following Google Play’s night-friendly appearance more widely rolling out last night, Play Books is gaining a dark theme. It becomes the last modern Android app in the Play family to get the look.

Google Play Books Stories August 15, 2019

Google Play Books adds beta features on the web, including ‘Custom shelves’

Earlier this year, Google Play Books received a Material Theme redesign on Android and iOS, with the service in 2018 gaining audiobooks. Play Books is now adding “Beta Features” on the web to let you test upcoming functionality.

Google Play Books Stories April 8, 2019

Google Play Books adds audiobook download quality, customizable rewind/forward increments

Earlier this year, Google introduced a Material Theme redesign for Play Books on Android. Now widely rolled out, version 5.1.9 today adds a handful of new features for audiobooks, including audio quality and download size, as well as customizable backward/forward increments.

Google Play Books Stories January 19, 2019

Many Google apps in recent months have been updated with the company’s Material Theme. The latest is Play Books, with that revamp now beginning to more widely roll out on Android.

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Google Play Books Stories March 29, 2018

In January, Google added audiobook support to Play Books, while the Play Store gained a new section for the long-form audio format. After integrating with Assistant Routines earlier this month, Google is updating Play Books with “Smart Resume,” Bookmarks, and greater speed controls, as well as expanding Family Library to more countries.

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Google Play Books Stories February 3, 2018

Some Google Home owners can redeem a free audiobook in Play Books

Last week, Play Books added audiobooks with a new store, as well as integration with Google Cast and Assistant. To advertise the latter’s capabilities, some Google Home users can now redeem a complimentary audiobook of their choice.

Google Play Books Stories January 23, 2018

Over the weekend, Google Play inadvertently teased the launch of an audiobook store and listening feature. Today, that functionality is officially launching as part of Play Books and includes integration with Google Assistant.

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Google Play Books Stories December 28, 2016


Google “temporarily” stopped allowing new publishers to sign up for its Google Play Books Partner Center more than a year ago, largely due to rampant piracy on the service. Now, a year and a half later (it was originally shuttered in May of 2015), the Partner Center still hasn’t opened back up…

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Google Play Books Stories September 19, 2016


Google has today launched a nifty new feature in Google Play Books called Discover. As you might expect, it helps you discover new books that you might want to read…

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Google Play Books Stories July 21, 2016


The Play Books app has a special affinity for comic books with a number of features meant to improve the reading experience on mobile devices. Announced as part of Comic-Con, Bubble Zoom uses machine learning to magnify text bubbles in digital comics. Users can test this out now on select Marvel and DC volumes.

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Google Play Books Stories January 13, 2016

Google Play Books comes to Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and 5 more new countries

This one’s a quick one. Google has today launched Google Play Books in 9 new countries, bringing the total number of locales that have access to the service to 75. Those residing in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates will find that they can use Play Books effective immediately.

On a related note, Google updated Play Books this time last month with a new Night Light mode that lets you read in the dark without killing your eyes. Hopefully they’ll bring this feature to the OS as a whole soon, just like Apple is planning to do with the launch of iOS 9.3. Most of us have been using this on our desktops with F.lux.

Google Play Books Stories December 15, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 5.52.35 PMGoogle today has announced an update to its Google Play Books app on Android and iOS that brings with it a new feature called “Night Light.” The update is available now and bumps the app to version 3.7.45 on Android.

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Google Play Books Stories November 12, 2015

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Google is updating Play Books to provide a better experience for reading comic books. Citing how the smaller screen of a phone makes it harder to follow along in detail heavy pages, there’s a new landscape mode to vertically swipe through panes. Just turn your phone sideways to access the new view.

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Google Play Books Stories June 9, 2015

Facebook Messenger becomes the 10th app to pass 1 billion installs on the Play Store

Following Google Play Books passing 1 billion installs earlier today (the 9th app on that list), Facebook Messenger has now officially passed the same landmark, making it the 10th app on the Play Store to do so. I think it’s fair to attribute this to Messenger’s growing adoption since Facebook required that it be installed on iOS devices. It’s still not required for messaging on Android, however.

While several other apps have also passed this mark, only two other apps not created by Google have done so. Facebook’s own official Facebook client is one, while the other is the Facebook-owned WhatsApp client (which notably passed the 1 billion install mark long before Messenger). It’s clear that Zuckerberg and co. have a foothold on the Play Store that no other company does.

Google Play Books passes the 1 billion install mark on the Play Store

Update: Facebook’s Messenger has also now passed 1 billion.

Google Play Books, an app that comes pre-installed with stock Android, has now become the ninth app to pass the 1 billion install mark. It’s not exactly an amazing achievement considering it ships with most Android phones, but it’s a huge number nonetheless.

Notably, only two non-Google apps, Facebook and WhatsApp, have ever passed this milestone. As you might expect, some of the more popular Google-made apps like Google Maps and Gmail passed 1 billion at various times over the last couple of years.

Google Play Books Stories May 18, 2015

Google officially introduces Literata, the new default font for Play Books

Google today introduced its new default font family for Google Play Books, tweeting to show off the new typeface and saying that it’s “perfect for long reads on all devices.”

The new typeface default was actually included in Play Books version 3.4.5, released May 6th, alongside a new card-based interface for text translation and the ability to create notes in book samples. This, however, is the first time that Google has drawn any attention to the new font which replaces Droid Serif as the default.

The company commissioned the font from Type Together, a firm focused on creating new type designs tailored for corporate use. The group often works alongside companies like Google, and here’s what the design firm said about the challenge designing for digital books:

A new book typeface was needed that would provide an outstanding reading experience on a whole range of devices and high resolution screens running different rendering technologies. Additionally, the new Play Books type is meant to establish a recognisable visual identity for Google’s native eBook App and stylistically distinguish itself from other eReader competitors.

The electronic or digital book represents one of the most important challenge designers and developers face today. The technical limitations of devices regarding rendering of type, together with their variety of physical sizes, are only two of the main obstacles eBooks have to tackle. These facts contribute to an unfair yet appropriate comparison with their analog counterpart, where typography plays a leading role. The Play Books project offered an opportunity to approach some of these problems from a new perspective.

And further, how they arrived at the style they chose:

TypeTogether’s counterpart team at Google, lead by senior UX designer Addy Lee Beavers, agreed that the desired typeface should have a more interesting and varied texture than other fonts being used in eBooks or ones generally developed for on-screen use. This could be achieved by means of slanted stress, less mechanic letter structure and varied horizontal proportions of characters. Based on these premises and on an intensive iterative process, TypeTogether arrived at a solution of hybridisation taking inspiration from both Scotch and old-style Roman types. The resulting letterforms create a pleasant organic texture that helps to deliver very good results for ease of reading and comfort.

Literata most notably has a lower x-height and higher ascenders than Droid Serif, and features two different weights and matching italics. It includes PanEuropean language support—meaning that Western, Central, and Eastern European languages are all included—as well as type for full Latin extended, Polytonic Greek, and Cyrillic.

Type Together has made more pictures of the typeface available on Flickr.


Google Play Books Stories March 5, 2015

EU court says ebooks aren’t books, must be subject to higher tax rates

Europe’s top court has declared that ebooks are ‘services’ rather than books, and that European countries are not allowed to give them the same favorable tax treatment as paper books. The reasoning, such as it is, is that ebooks cannot be used without a physical device, and ebooks are a service provided to those devices.

Both France and Luxembourg have applied to ebooks the same reduced rate of VAT (sales tax) enjoyed by books made from crushed trees. The WSJ reports that the EU has ruled that this is illegal.

Since 2012, France has applied a 5.5% VAT rate and Luxembourg a 3% VAT rate on e-books, the same rate as for paper books. The European Court of Justice said both countries must apply their normal VAT rate, which for France is 20% and for Luxembourg is 17%.

Europe already closed one ebook-related tax loophole: Amazon used to use its Luxembourg base as a reason to charge just 3% on ebook sales throughout Europe, but a change in the law forced it to apply the VAT rate applicable to the customer’s own country.

There is some small hope that sanity may prevail in future. The European Commission has said that there may be legal mechanisms through which countries can in future define their own policies, with an “extensive overhaul” of VAT rules to be completed next year. However, don’t be surprised if ‘harmonization’ of tax rates for paper and digital books results in higher taxes on the former to pay for lower taxes on the latter …

Via Engadget

Google Play Books Stories June 20, 2014

Google Play Movies arrive in 21 new countries


Google has opened up access to Google Play content in ton of new countries in recent months, but today we get one of the largest expansions yet with Google Play Movies arriving for 21 new countries. The full list of new countries (below), which includes Greece, Poland, Croatia, and Thailand just to name a few, brings the service’s availability up to a total of 90 countries worldwide (via AndroidPolice).

Google’s full list of supported countries for Google Play Books, Movies, Music, and more is here.

  1. Albania
  2. Argentina
  3. Armenia
  4. Azerbaijan
  5. Belarus
  6. Croatia
  7. Czech Republic
  8. Estonia
  9. Greece
  10. Kazakhstan
  11. Kyrgyzstan
  12. Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  13. Latvia
  14. Lithuania
  15. Moldova
  16. Poland
  17. Slovakia
  18. Tajikistan
  19. Thailand
  20. Turkmenistan
  21. Uzbekistan


Google Play Books Stories December 2, 2013

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If you’ve been looking for a good book these days, Google just made selecting your next novel a little easier with a special Google Books sale. The Cyber Monday deal is good on over 100 bestselling books, with discounts up to 75% off the cover price.

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Google Play Books Stories August 8, 2013


Google announced back in July during its Google I/O keynote that it would be rolling out textbooks to Google Play Books sometime in August and today the AndroidPolice notes listings for textbooks have arrived in the store. The textbooks get their own section in the Google Play Books store, and are currently only available to users in the US.

Google’s new textbooks are available to purchase, but some titles will offer a rental option that allows users to rent the book for a lower-cost over a six month period. Google is also providing free samples for the new textbooks. The service is currently available through the Google Play Books apps on Android, iOS, and on the web.

Google is also piloting a new Google Play for Education service and accepting app submissions ahead of a full roll out.

Google Play Books Stories September 25, 2012

Google has updated its Books app experience on Android, which already features over 4 million books in the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia, Italy, France, Korea, Spain, and Japan. The latest version of the app introduces a number of new features including: highlighting, dictionary, notes, and new “Places” info cards.

In addition to including dictionary definitions when tapping on words, Google highlighted some of the new features in a post on its official Android blog:

Starting today, when you come across an unfamiliar geographic location—a faraway city or distant mountain range—you can tap on the location to learn more about it. You’ll see an info card with a Google Map and the option to get more information by searching on Google or Wikipedia.

Also in the update is the ability to translate words and phrases to a number of currently supported languages. Other features include: expand full story

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