Is It Worth Publishing Ebooks On Google Play Books?

Publishing Ebooks On Google Play

Amazon KDP, Smashwords, and Draft2Digital are undoubtedly the leading service providers for ebook self-publishing and distribution.

But Google Play Books and the Android platform must surely be worth consideration.

You would think that with Android’s massive mobile device market share and user base in smartphones and tablets that there would be an almost unlimited potential to sell ebooks and audiobooks on its ebook reader app.

Unfortunately, with all this going for it, Google Play Books appears to be a real flop when it comes to ebook sales on the Play Store and people reading a book on their smartphones.

I have no idea why this is. I have many books published on Google.

But in my experience, Google Play and Google Books simply do not deliver enough ebook or book sales.

I can only assume that Google doesn’t have its heart in ebooks.

Or that Android users don’t buy or read ebooks in the same quantity as Kindle and Apple users.


The Horrid Google Play Publishing Interface

The insanely illogical user interface you get when first contemplating using Google Play to publish your ebooks is awful.

It is next to impossible to navigate, understand, and use.

Finding the publishing start page itself is a real challenge in itself.

It is worse than a Douglas Adams quote:

“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes, I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.” 

But to help you locate the start page where you can publish your books on Google, you can use this link to go to Google Play Publisher.

If you want to suffer a lot, and I really mean a lot, try publishing your ebooks in an epub file on Google Play. Then a few days later, try to get a sales report.

One could die a thousand deaths waiting for the report to load.

Then once it is finally downloaded in Excel format from your web browser, you will not be surprised to find, probably, that there are no sales whatsoever.

However, Google doesn’t seem to like telling you this, so instead, it sends you a blank Excel sheet.

Another weird annoyance is that Google discounts your list price. Why? Who knows.

Quite honestly, publishing with chisels on stone tablets would offer more joy than doing so on Google Play Books.


Is Google Play Books worth all the bother?

Oddly enough, yes, it is.

Well, only for the Google part and not the Play and Books part.

You will need to invest a few frustrating hours publishing ebooks on Google Play.

But once you do that, there is one huge benefit to publishing on Google Play Books.

Once your ebooks are available, Google Search indexes your book titles and author name a little more prominently.

Not only your book listings on Google Play Books, either.

Since I published on Google Play Books, my search results have expanded.

These include my YouTube book trailers that I had forgotten all about, my Goodreads book listings as well as several book retailers I had never heard of or realized carried my books.

Okay, very few direct ebook sales. But getting extra Google Search indexing is extremely valuable in helping boost your author brand and book sales on other retailers.



While many self-published authors work hard every day trying to improve the SEO on their blogs and websites to improve search results on Google, perhaps this is an easier way to achieve the same aim.

If you are only interested in direct ebook sales, then Amazon KDP, Smashwords, and Draft2Digital are the best choices.

But by investing a little time in publishing on Google Play, you could improve your Google search indexing.

It can help potential readers and book buyers find you and your books, and perhaps help you sell more ebooks.


Update: The Google Play Books publisher dashboard has finally received a long-overdue refresh. The interface is now much more intuitive and much, much easier to navigate.

If you gave up on Google Play Books because of the old interface, it might be worth checking out the new version. 


Further reading: What Are The Best Ways To Sell Books Online?

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent teaching English and writing, as well as testing and taming new technology.

7 thoughts on “Is It Worth Publishing Ebooks On Google Play Books?

  • February 26, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    I just got an email from Draft2Digital, saying they are adding Google Play Books to their distribution network. Draft2Digital is a dream to work with. However, to your point about having our books on Google Play Books could increase our Google juice, do you think that would happen even if we go through Draft2Digital?

    • February 26, 2019 at 8:57 pm

      Yes, I’m sure it will work exactly the same for SEO benefits. But without the hassle of using Google Play’s awful publishing platform. I might change over myself. :)

  • December 23, 2018 at 6:36 am

    Had to laugh at your writing – especially as a Douglas Adams fan!
    I had no trouble at all setting my book up just now and had a few sales within a couple of days. the royalties, however, did not make sense at all. (And yes that hideous spreadsheet for download that masks as a sales report is a joke.) I thought royalties are 70%, but wasn’t so in the lovely spreadsheet. Any idea why?

    Unfortunately, I forgot to add an ebook ISBN and figured after some research that it would be good to add it, so I had to do it all over again. Arrgh.

  • June 13, 2018 at 11:53 am

    It is a sad experience, Diane. But you really made me laugh as well with your comparison of the Google Play sales report to a pregnancy!

  • June 13, 2018 at 1:00 am

    Laughed a lot with the GoolgePlayBook description. Truly loved it! I just went through that hell myself and I am still trying to figure out how to use it. The process is disastrous and the limited options increase the likelihood of authors making tons of rookie mistakes when publishing their work. Waiting for a report feels more like a pregnancy.

    Thank you for this post. You guys are amazing, always posting consistently reliable sources and resources. Very good article. Super helpful, as always.

  • May 16, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    but how to increase sale of google play books

  • May 14, 2018 at 9:25 am

    Am câteva cărți publicate de ceva timp, dar nu am scos nici un ban. Oare merită să mai rămân pe acolo?

    I have some books published for some time, but I have not made any money. Does it deserve to stay there?


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