How To Upload Ebooks To The Google Play Books App

With all the free ebooks on offer from publishers such as Verso Books and Haymarket during COVID-19, you might be thinking of finally getting hold of an e-reader. Before you splurge, however, you should know that you can totally read ebooks on your phone. In fact, I’ve been doing that for over two years now! There’s a variety of apps you can use to read ebooks, but I have mostly stuck to Google Play Books, as I think it works quite well overall.

It’s an unfortunate fact that uploading external ebooks (such as those bought from publishers’ websites) to the app can be a complicated process, so I thought I would share a step-by-step guide. In the hopes that it will help you get started, here’s how to upload ebooks to the Google Play Books app!


Retrieving Your Ebooks

I will be using Verso Books as an example in this guide, because I have just gotten a copy of one of their free ebooks, Feminism For The 99% by Cinzia Arruzza. However, most publishers and book-buying sites will have an option to receive the ebook you purchased via email, so you can loosely follow these steps with any site.

Note that I am using an iPhone, so your system might look slightly different. For instance, the Google Play Books app on Android might need you to ‘enable PDF uploading’ in the settings.

If you are on the Verso Books site, go to the Library section to access all the ebooks you have purchased. Underneath each copy, you will see a few options, of which you will want to select ‘Email this book‘ to proceed. A box will pop up, prompting you to enter your email address and a format for your ebook – I tend to go with epub, as most apps can process it easily.

Your ebook will then land in your inbox. In the case of Verso, as well as Haymarket Books, the epub file is directly attached to the email, making it easy to retrieve.

Uploading Your Ebooks

This is where things get a bit tricky. Downloading the file and uploading it from your downloads can get buggy, and has just never worked on my iPhone. What you can do instead is to click the attached file and wait for the file size to appear underneath the file name (as shown in the central image below). Then select the share button in the top right corner (the box with the arrow). A menu with a number of apps will pop up, but Google Play Books will likely not be one of them, so you have to scroll to the end and select ‘More.’

Now we’re talking! Towards the bottom of the complete apps list, you will find the option to ‘Copy to Play Books’ as indicated below. Once you select this, your phone will open the Google Play Books app, and a box will pop up. Select ‘Upload’ to add your ebook to the Google Play Books library.

Processing And Downloading Your Ebooks

The rest of the work is up to the app. Your ebook will first appear grey, with the word ‘Processing’ in the lower right corner. Once the file has finished processing, you will see the full cover and title, and a small arrow in the corner will indicate that you can now download it. Downloading your ebooks will ensure that you can read them without using the internet. Once you have pressed the arrow and the book has downloaded, it will be replaced by a check mark.

And viol√°! That’s your ebook ready to read in Google Play Books. If your book-buying site looks drastically different or anything else doesn’t match with this guide, please do leave a comment below, and I will try to help out as best as I can.


For more ebook knowledge, check out my guide to borrowing ebooks from the library. Got any other bookish tutorials you want to see? Other apps you want me to cover? Let me know in the comments, on Instagram, or even on Goodreads.

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