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How to Use Google Play Books on Your Android Tablet

The latest craze in publishing: e-books, or electronic books. Books printed on paper are just so 14th century. Your Android tablet lets you take advantage of this reading craze.

An e-book is essentially a digital version of the material you would normally read on paper. The words, formatting, figures, pictures — all that stuff is stored digitally so that you can read it on some sort of e-book reader. For an Android tablet, you need e-book software. The Play Books app allows you to use your tablet as an e-reader.

How to use the Play Books app on your Android tablet

Google wants you to enjoy your digital reading experience by using the Play Books app. Locate that app on the Home screen or on the Apps screen. If you don’t find it, you can obtain a copy from the Google Play Store.

After first running the Play Books app, you may be prompted to turn on synchronization, touch the Turn On Sync button.

The Play Books app organizes the books into a library and displays the books for reading. The library lists any titles you’ve obtained for your Google Books account. Or when you’re returning to the Play Books app after a break, you see the current page of the e-book you were last reading.


Scroll through the library by swiping the screen left or right. To begin reading, touch a book to open it.

  • If you don’t see a book in the library, touch the Menu icon and choose the Refresh command.

  • To ensure that your reading material is always available, touch the Menu icon and choose the Make Available Offline command. That way, the tablet doesn’t have to access the Internet to synchronize and download books from the library.

  • To remove a book from the library, long-press the cover and choose the Remove from My Library command. There is no confirmation: The book is instantly removed.

  • Synchronization allows you to keep copies of your Google Books on all your Android devices, as well as on the Google Books website.

How to read a Play Books e-book on your Android tablet

The e-book experience on an Android tablet should be familiar to you, especially if you’re reading this text in a real book. The entire page-turning and reading operation works the same. The only major difference is that you can read a physical book without batteries and in direct sunlight.

Touch a book in the Play Books app library to open it. If you’ve opened the book previously, you’re returned to the page you last read. Otherwise, the first page you see is the book’s first page.

In the Play Books app, you turn pages by swiping left or right, but probably mostly left. You can also turn pages by touching the far left or right sides of the screen.


The Play Books app works in both vertical and horizontal orientations, whichever you prefer; the text jumbles around in most e-books to accommodate either presentation.

  • If the onscreen controls disappear, touch the screen to see them again.

  • The Aa button is used to adjust the display. Touching that button displays a palette of options for adjusting the text on the screen and the brightness.

  • To return to the library, touch the Play Books app icon in the upper-left corner of the screen or touch the Back icon.

How to get more Google Play books on your Android tablet

Nothing is more delightful for an author to write about than buying books, especially when he’s urging someone else to do it. For the Play Books app, you obtain new titles — free or paid — from the Google Play Store, the same place you visit to obtain apps for your tablet.

To quickly visit the Google Play Store’s online bookstore, touch the Google Play icon on the Play Books app’s main screen. You can also start the Play Store app and choose Books from the main screen.

Search for books, browse the categories, or use the Search icon to locate a specific title, topic, or author.

  • Books with a price button must be purchased using your Google Checkout account. The process is the same as for buying an app.

  • Free books have a Free button.

  • Books you obtain from the Google Play Store, free or paid, can be synchronized with any Android device you have where the Play Books app is installed. Use the Refresh command to synchronize books between your various Android gizmos.

  • Not every title is available as an e-book.

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