3 ways to find free ebooks on Google Play

Google Play logoIf you’ve got Android-based smartphone or tablet, you may want to check out Google’s native ebookstore available on Google Play. The number of countries with access to Google Play ebookstore is increasing. Currently there are 26 are on the list.

While Google web search is famous from showing thousands of results to even the most specific key phrase, Google Play is not like that. Just the opposite. In Google’s store the list of results is very limited and usually contains no more than 100 items.

Many people confuse Google Play Books with Google Books. The latter is a project that started in October 2004 and is devoted to scan print books, convert them to a digital format and store in an online searchable database. As of April 2013 there are over 30 million publications on Google Books – but this is not what you’ll see and get from Google Play ebookstore. These two services are separate.

In March, Google Play ebookstore had over 5 million titles, but how many of them are free it’s really hard to tell. Again, it’s not easy to get the list of all available free titles.

One general advice would be to get the most of the search box. If you are looking for a book from a specific category or author, don’t hesitate to use the search box to narrow the number of results in order to fit into the search result limit. You’ll always be able to filter the results by price (as shown in the tip section below).

3 ways to find free ebooks on Google Play

1. Explore Top Charts section

This is a basic tool. Go to Google Play, and from a left-side panel select Books.

Google Play ebookstore - select Books section

2. Now, from a top navigation bar, select Top Charts. A list of top free downloads should appear right underneath.

Google Play ebookstore - select Top Charts section

As I said before, Google offers very simple, if not simplistic, search tools. You can’t sort the results, or expand the list. Happily, on top of the list you’ll see books from contemporary authors. Public domain titles will appear while you scroll down.

If you won’t see top free books it under Top Charts section, you can go directly to this link: https://play.google.com/store/books/collection/topselling_free

2. Make the most of the search box

Google is about searching, so make the most of the search box and you’ll most probably find the books that will be interesting enough to download for free.

Actually, you don’t even need to type “free” in the search box, as Google offers one, but very useful filter option.

Here is an example. If you are looking for a free thriller, type “thriller” in the search field (1) and then select Free from a drop-down menu All prices.

Google Play ebookstore - search for free ebooks

You’ll see a list of results like this.

Google Play ebookstore - search for free ebooks - filter by free

You can perform a search for any keyword and the option to rule out all paid titles will be always available. To me, this is the best possible way to browse Google Play for free ebooks. You just have to actively look for books, authors, genres or topics. Typing a slightly modified key phrase can bring different results, so be creative and keep testing.

Using the search box extensively – this seems to be the best rule for Google Play.

3. Browse Google Play via web search

If you’d want to get the list of all results that are related to your key phrase and come from Google Play ebookstore, you can use Google web search. The way to limit search results to Google Play is to put in a web search box a key phrase:


Limit results to Google Play ebookstore use inurl: search operator – inurl:store/books/details looks only for results from Books section of Google Play, just like inurl:store/apps/details looks only for applications:

site:play.google.com inurl:store/books/details

How to limit the results to Google Play ebookstore pages that are free ebooks. The most effective trick I found is to use the word “free” and exclude “sample” (from “free sample” – that means it’s a paid book):

site:play.google.com inurl:store/books/details free -sample

The good way about searching via Google web is that you can use search tools available here. For instance, you can look only for items that appeared in the past month.

I’ll keep exploring Google Play ebookstore, especially for ways to find foreign-language books, so stay in touch, get free updates by RSS or email.

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