What is the Google eBookstore?
The Google eBookstore provides an innovative way for readers to discover, buy, and read ebooks. Google eBooks are stored in what is known as a “digital cloud,” which allows you to shop for your favorite books and then read them virtually wherever you go on a number of different devices. For example, you can begin reading a book on your computer, pick it up where you left off, later, on your tablet, then read on your smartphone or on your dedicated eReading device. All of this without losing your place! The Google eBookstore offers over 3 million titles of new bestsellers and favorite classics.
Google provides the books as PDFs (meaning the text won’t automatically reflow to fit the device) or ePubs. ePub is the open-standard format for eBooks, and soon, it may be the primary format for all retailers, including Amazon.
Google eBooks supports most of the important devices (PC, iPad, iPhone, Android, Nook, and Sony), with the exception of Amazon’s Kindle, since Amazon is still running a proprietary format. (Google provides a full list of supported devices here:
In order to access your books in “the cloud,” you must download Google’s reader app to your reading devices. This will then work with your Google account so that you never have to download your books to multiple devices or manually transfer them from one device to another. Google will automatically save your page positions and sync across all of your devices as you continue reading.
Using the eBookstore
Once you click on a book in the Google ebookstore, you will see a screen that shows you a brief description of the book, reviews, the book price, an option to see a sample, and the devices you may use to read the book. It will also show you whether the book features flowing text or scanned pages only.
Publishing Your Own eBook on Google
In order to take part in Google’s eBooks program, you must first apply to the Google Books Partner Program and create an account.
1. Go to https://books.google.com/partner/signon and fill out the form. They will ask you for general information, in addition to contact information and information regarding your books. If you already have a Google account, you will be able to log in with that. Once you accept the terms and conditions, you will then be a Google Books Partner.
2. From within your Google Books Partner Program account, you can submit settings to make all of your books available for purchase via Google as an ebook, or you may specify individual books that you wish to sell. If you don’t already have content available for sale, you may submit your files in a later step.
3. In order to make content available for purchase in Google eBooks, you must agree to an addendum to your existing Partner agreement. This addendum will also provide specific pricing information regarding your ebooks. You can access this addendum by signing into your account and clicking on the Google Editions tab. Unfortunately, it does not look like there’s a way to view the most recent version of this addendum without first creating an account.
Adding Books to Your Account
Before Google can process your books, they require basic information about the titles that you plan to include. If your books don’t have ISBNs, Google will supply a unique identifier for you; otherwise, log in to your account and click the Books tab. Next, click Add Books. You will need to fill out the relevant information about your book, including author, title, ISBN, and territorial rights. Once this is complete, click the Save button.
The next step in the process is to either send Google a physical copy of your book for scanning and processing (read more about this here) or upload a PDF (recommended).
To upload a PDF, click the Books tab and then Add Books. Next, click on Upload/Ship Books. If your book has an ISBN, your PDF file name must include it. If it does not have an ISBN, it should be named as the title of your book. (More detailed information, including how to name your files and include cover images, may be found here). Once this is complete, click the Browse button on the web form and locate the PDF file on your computer. Select Upload Files. You’ll see a confirmation notice indicating the status of the upload.
Submitting Your eBook Files
Google requests both a PDF and ePub version of your book since they offer users two display modes: original pages and reflowable text. Google will not create an ePub file for you. This means that you will need to have this file type already. (If you do not know how to create a professional ePub file, we can help.) In order to upload your files, you will need to log in, click the Google Editions tab, and then click the Show eBooks link.
Next, click the pencil icon next to the book for which you intend to upload an ePub file or PDF. (If you have already uploaded a PDF when adding books to your account, you should simply be able to select the title to be made into an ebook.) Double check to make sure that “Enable Google Editions sales for this title” has been checked.
At the bottom of the page, find the “File updates” section. Select the ePub (or PDF, if applicable) for your book and upload the file. Once your upload is complete, the filename will appear under the “File updates” section of the page.
You will want to make certain that the ePub file passes validation. You can do this at a third-party site (http://validator.idpf.org/) or use the tools Google provides.
Time to publication ranges from 1 – 3 weeks.
Pricing, Royalties & Payments
Once your files have been uploaded and approved, Google will sell your eBooks in their eBookstore, and their retailer partners will also be able to sell on their own sites. Authors may set their own list price for Google eBooks, except in cases where Google is acting as your agent or where Google is required to sell at a price set by the publisher. They will share the revenue from any sales according to the list price that you provide.
Google allows you to set a potentially variable price, which is set to the lowest list price, as determined by Google using metadata and other sources. If you would prefer to set a fixed price, you may choose to do so.
The initial default price for your Google eBooks is 80% of the lowest print list price. You may also manually set a price, which will be necessary if you don’t have a print version.
Google notes that they reserve the right to sell a book at a price discounted from its Google eBooks list price. Your share of the revenue will then be based on this lower price.
This information is a bit difficult to find, but currently, it looks like Google’s basic revenue split is 58/48% of list; split is 45/55% if selling via other partners; and 70/30% if the title is set in the “agency” category.
In order to receive payments, authors must have a U.S. bank account. Payments will be made in U.S. dollars to the specified bank account. In most cases, payments will be initiated once each month, providing they owe you at least $1.00 and your bank account has been verified. Payments are limited to $500 until you complete the credit verification process, which is separate from the bank verification process. Sales reports are updated every 24 hours.
The Google eBooks program is not exclusive. Since Google does not yet have a large number of partner retail sites, authors should also consider selling their book directly via the larger retail outlets, such as Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, and the Apple iBookstore.