Is It Worth Self-Publishing Ebooks On Google Play Books?

Worth 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.

Android has a massive mobile device market share and user base in smartphones and tablets.

You would think that there would be an almost unlimited potential to sell ebooks and audiobooks on its ebook reader app.

Google Play Books and sales

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. 


Related Reading: What Are The Best Ways To Sell Books Online?

15 thoughts on “Is It Worth Self-Publishing Ebooks On Google Play Books?”

  1. Thanks for the helpful article!

    I’m getting ready to publish my first eBook and have a question about the benefits of Google Books…

    Since Google Books indexes the book (if I understand that correctly), does that have the same benefits as getting a web-page indexed through Google’s search console?

    For example, will the content of the book be protected from online duplication in the same way that indexed web pages are?

    I wouldn’t want someone stealing the content and writing blog posts with it or something, so I’m wondering about that.

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated!


    1. Yes, there is a small benefit with Google Books that your ebook may be indexed by Google. But it won’t appear in Search Console.

      As for content theft, there is no protection at all. Ebook piracy and content scraping are very common.

      In my experience, many of my books and a lot of my content have been pirated very quickly. There’s not much you can do about it.

  2. Hello Derek
    Your helpful article helped me publish my book on Google Play and contrary to Fern’s experience, I wasn’t asked for any proof of identity.
    Naturally, an address was asked for, but that’s it.
    I would suggest that Fern tries again because it’s possible that the system has been updated since she last tried.
    All the best

  3. Making my book ‘discoverable’ is like trying to get blood from a stone. After a week ‘live’ on Google Books and Play Books, my book is still non-existent in a general search.

    A search for the term ‘truth’ which is in the title, and the author’s surname fails to show up in both a non-filtered search and ‘sorted by date’ filter. Part of the title “Made manifest” in quotes also failed. Search terms ‘potter’ ‘truth’ in Google Books with filters ‘free Google Ebooks’, ’21st century’, ‘books’ returned five results… and my book wasn’t among them. Truth, god, spiritual, potter – all keywords – and all of which are either in the title or description of my book make no difference.

    99% of folk search with general search terms, yet the only way to see my book in a search is by searching for the FULL title or the author’s FULL name. So, for me, it’s a complete waste of time publishing on Google Books and Play Books.

    1. Yes, it can be frustrating, Jason. But it does take time for sites to index entries. I’m not sure about Google Books, but a good guide is that Google can take weeks or even months to index a web page. Maybe give it some time and check again in a week or two.

  4. Thank you very much for explaining the steps in a format that was easy to follow. If only my experience with Google Play Books was as positive!

    A few minutes ago today (05 February 2021) I created an account there, (even reluctantly supplying my mobile phone number to Google), and only got as far as the name and address entry screen, because after I’d pressed ‘submit’ it returned an error message, telling me that my account is suspended (yes, this new account that I was still in the process of setting up!) and that Google requires some verification documents, such as a photo of my passport/driving licence, etc, plus a utility bill with my address on. All this sounds too excessive and I really am not comfortable with giving that kind of information to Google.

    I have self-published via Amazon, Smashwords and Draft2Digital and none of them asked for that kind of information! Even my country’s tax office (HMRC) has never asked for these things, and the cynic in me wonders whether this is simply Google’s way of coercing people into handing over their sensitive data, disguised as ‘verification’.

    I had assumed the process of opening a publishing account on Google would be similar to the others and as straightforward, but I’m seriously considering just deleting the entire account now. In fact, I think I’m going to do that after I finish writing this comment. I had read a few articles about publishing via Google but none mentioned any similar experiences to mine, so I thought I’d share this here in case it’s helpful to anyone else.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience with Google Play, Fern. I must admit I haven’t heard of the issues you faced before. It’s a long time since I registered, so it’s impossible for me to check. But maybe other readers can share their experience.

      1. Just a quick follow-up – I did go ahead and delete the entire account. That may seem a bit drastic, but handing over such sensitive information to Google was a request too far for me. From what I’ve read, it seems the entire interface for Google Play Books has been changed, so you may well have been one of the lucky ones by registering before that happened.

        I forgot to clarify that the error message appeared when attempting to submit my name and address details in the Payments Profile section of the Partner Centre.

        Best wishes and thanks once again for all your excellent articles :)

  5. 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?

    1. 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. :)

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Avatar for Mircea Crăciun
    Mircea Crăciun

    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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