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.
One 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 gag:
“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, and 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 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.
So 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, that is.
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 in an effort 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 natural choices.
But by investing a little time in publishing on Google Play, you could improve your Google search indexing, which can only 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’s Are The Best Ways To Sell Books Online?