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Google Play Books 101: Managing your library

Google Play Books makes it easy to save books to your device, as well as remove and delete them

Android Central University — Google Play

As the name suggests,

Google Play Books lets you purchase and read books on your Android device. In the sense that it turns your device into an eReader, you might say it's similar to a Kindle or a Nook.

Google's actually made it pretty easy to manage your library. You can buy and save new books to your device. Play Books also provides a way to remove books from your device, which is particularly useful if you want to free up some storage space, and you can still read books with an Internet connection if you do this. If you don't like a book, you can completely delete it from your library instead.

Those are the basics. Join us after the break as we go into more detail.

Adding new books, saving them to your device

We've already covered this more in depth in a different article. The process described in this article still works to add new books and save them to your Android device.

Searching and sorting

If you've got a large selection of books in your Google Play Books library, you can use the search button at the top of the screen to search by title or author, or search for new books on the Google Play Store.

GPB hamburger menu

It can also be useful to rearrange the way your books are displayed. Tap three dots in the top-right corner of the screen, then select "Sort." From there you can arrange by title, author or how recently you've read a particular book.

Removing or deleting books from your device

Google's provided a couple different options to remove books from your device (but still read them with an Internet connection) or delete books (removing them from your device and from your library completely).

Method 1: Remove books from Play Books' home screen

Play Books home

You may see the book you want to remove on Play Books' home screen, or the screen you see when you open the app. In the above screenshot, you'll notice that each book has a pin icon on the book image — some pins may be slanted while others may be upright depending on whether a particular book lives on your device. If you select a slanted pin icon, it'll become upright.

Play Books remove book from home

Once you do so, you'll get the option of removing the book from your device. If you're sure you want to do so, hit "OK." The book will then be removed from your device — simple.

Method 2: Remove or delete books from "My Library"

GPB hamburger menu

You should see something like this at the top of the screen when you first open Play Books, and from most screens within the app. In the upper left-hand corner, you'll see three horizontal lines next to the book (or the "hamburger menu"). Select those lines. Once you do that, select "My Library," which you should see as the second option from the top.

GPB manage from "My Library"

Once you get to your library, you'll see all books you've purchased or downloaded for free from Play Books, even if you don't have them saved to your device. If you're not connected to the Internet, the books not stored on your device will show up faded (like in the above screenshot) until you have a connection.

Below each book you'll see three dots stacked on top of each other (that's called the "overflow menu"). Select that for the book you want to remove from your device or delete from your collection.

GPB manage from My Library: overflow menu

Once you open the overflow menu, you'll get a few options. You can select "Don't keep" to remove the book from your device. If you want to remove a book from your library completely, you should select "Delete from library."

GPB manage from "My Library": delete or remove

You will see a confirmation screen when you choose to remove or delete a book. Confirm by selecting "OK" to remove the book from your device or "Delete" to get rid of it entirely.

22 Comments
  • All I want to know is why it takes so long for imported PDFs and EPUBs to upload to Play Books? On iOS on my iPad, through iBooks, its done in seconds. What's with the big difference in speed?
  • Sure can
    https://support.google.com/googleplay/answer/3097151?hl=en
  • That doesn't answer my question at all.
  • It does answer the questions Google says it can take about an hour. Your question was why, the answer is "Becasue Google says"
  • Again... Thats not answering 'why' its slow. Because Google says isn't a sufficient answer.
  • Yes it is. Maybe not for you, but why get your panties in a twist over a question that can be easily be answered with reasonable deduction. This isn't difficult. Just give it some thought:
    - There may be some conversion or compression happening in the background.
    - Maybe the service is in high demand and needs to queue.
    - Your uploads might need to be scanned for copyright or formatting issues.
    - It could simply be an issue of replication across Google's network infrastructure. Ultimately, who cares. Knowing for sure why it could take "up to an hour" isn't going to make it go faster. And really, an hour isn't that bad a tradeoff. Sure, we'd all want it done instantly, but complaining about a trivial element in an elegant service that also happens to be free is just patently annoying, particularly after your question has been addressed. If Play Books sucks so much that it doesn't meet your standards and isn't the right fit for your needs, that's totally fine. Just don't bother with it and stick with iBooks. Choice is a beautiful thing. =/\= Kaptain75329
  • First off, Google Books doesn't suck in my opinion. Since I use both a Nexus 5 and an iPad Air, I initially chose it to handle my PDF and ePub needs because I could use it on both platforms. iBooks isn't. And calling Google Books elegant is way off base. An elegant solution would be having quicker uploads. Google is the server king, its hard to imagine that Apples second rate servers are vastly faster at this process. I asked this question looking for a technical response, but I'll clearly have to look elsewhere for one. I'd rather not be given apologetic answer for Google Books being slow. A 'real' reason may suggest that Google may be working to speed it up.
  • First off, [I apologize] ... blah blah blah And [In my opinion/I'm impatient/I'm tech illiterate] ... blah blah blah I asked this question [looking for confirmatory fist pumps to validate my baseless opinion] but I'll clearly have to look elsewhere for one... ----------- Hopefully you will. In the mean time, I fixed this nonsense for you. You're welcome or something. =/\= Kaptain75329
  • Lol. As if I would apologize to you. I'll leave this conversation alone as it will only fuel your stupidity.
  • Fixed it for you earlier, but someone at Android Central is looking out for your feelings. Anyway, fixating on my use of "elegant" is another matter of your opinion. And it turns out iBooks doesn't meet your needs, but Google Play Books does. (Now if only it were faster.) This is all subjective and in no way makes the service unusable or short of elegant. (Maybe for you, but then that's for you to decide.) Further, you did get a technical response - a direct link to the support page that wasn't good enough for you. Then you dismissed my technological explanations (plausible guesses on my part) as apologetic. Those points are just as likely to be the case (if not more so) and they are no more "real" than suggesting Google is working to speed it up. But ok, now I'm apologizing for Google. Whatever. If I'd known all it would take to satisfy you was a random guess suggesting "Google is on it" is all it would take to satisfy you, I still wouldn't have mentioned it because "Google may be working to speed it up" is even less technical than what I said in the first place. I can't be certain even you know what you want in the way of a direct response to your inquiry when evidently this is what passes for reasoning in your world. Hope this way of seeking help works out for you. I wouldn't count on it though. =/\= Kaptain75329
  • Then you needling someone who is just trying to find either a solution, or it there was a patch, a missing update, or a hotfix available simply because that is the device they happen to have invested in and berated their concerns as being trivial simply make you some kind of a nerdy bully. Talk about an oxymoron. Well, the moron part is correct.
    I will be much more realistic in explaining the reality of technology, manufactures, and those who create firmware and software for devices. Pay close attention, you will find you will need to quote me on this. Technology is not at fault, it is the designers who package together the firmware so that particular manufacture can comply with certain OS platforms, they are at fault. It is the programmers that create the software that is suppose to make your devices emulate, pay attention, not shake hands with software written for a previous or foreign Operating System, these people are at fault. The people who sell software are at fault because the go out of their way to have their product benchmark tested by Microsoft, Android, and Apple computers and devices, they don't care about how well the features work, or why no one thinks things through, all they need to do is explain what it is designed to do, and once they get their seal of approval, and the appropriate money changes hands, then such things become Microsoft recommended, Android recommended or Apple recommended, which doesn't mean crap.
    What it all boils down to is we get to enjoy things on short borrowed periods of time. So, fine, preach to the rafters that you have all of this disposable cash to which you can toss about on the beautiful thing called choice or what those of us who actually have the wisdom go by the coined phrase of "Keeping up with the Jones" or when you were a child, "My dad's car is faster than your dad's car." Yeah I noticed it when he wrapped it around that lamp standard, must have been going at a pretty good clip.
    So, to sum it up neatly with a nice little bow, I reiterate, "It is not the fault of technology, it is the fault of the minions who are unable to think beyond the box it is being packaged in." Therefore, and thus, I will gladly suffer through a cornucopia of free and bargain basement apps to find one that suits my device. To sit here and explain what devices I own, and what I run on them is only some sort of machismo pissing contest. Who the hell really cares. I've been at the individual computer industry since the late sixties. It took a semi trailer and eight strong men to install my first home computer. Oh yeah baby! big ol' magnetic reels jumping back and forth and not even a monitor. Everything was typed out on hard copy. Choice? Oh we had choice, it was, would that be IBM or IBM, and do you want it in gun metal gray or maybe a nice gun metal gray. IBM in gun metal gray! Excellent choice sir, pay the cashier and it would be delivered in fourteen months. Got it in 12, but I could also purchase the new Pascal integration into the existing Binary, Fortran, Cobol, and Algol. Wow fancy that.
    Look, it`s a simple fact, we can`t and never will get ahead of the game. So, for you folks out their looking for answers, some time forums are a blessing, and sometime you get jokers who bust your balls, and need to be taken down a peg or two.
    My advice is to consult the manufacture of your device first, and put the problem in their hands, often they will modify their firmware to conform better to apps and software. This is how they win points for customer and consumer loyalty. Using your manufactures forum will likely get you better notions than service forums, or OS forums. Reason is simple because they are purchasing the same products you are and are not likely to pounce on your back because of your ``choice``. Of course no matter where you go, there will always be some boneheads. They just make me shake my head and smile because of how petty it is to push people around on the internet. Such people are the one who believe that grey matter is what grows in the back shelves of a because they are either too lazy, too scared or truly suffer from procrastination which has been awarded recently as a mental health disorder.
  • I removed a book from my library once.. And it got deleted completely and Google's only solution for me was to refund the money. The problem was, the book was bought on sale and no longer on sale. Hopefully as the article states this process is easier now. Posted via Android Central App
  • I love this app. I agree with the Pdf upload times but most Pdf books are free so I don't complain. I just upload the Pdf overnight while I sleep and it's done when I wake up but I currently have about 50 books on my library. I love how you can switch across devices and keep your place. I just love this app Posted via my LG LS740 and The Android Central App
  • It's pretty much the only Google service I find absolutely useless to me because I can't by other than English language books. I would love to buy/manage books in English/Russian/Ukrainian but I can't... and this is the main reason I won't use Google Books services.
  • Ok I love this app but does anyone else find the overflow menu to pin or delete a book ridiculously hard to click?! I always end up just opening the book which is annoying if I am trying to pin multiple things in preparation for a vacation for example. I really think there is something wrong with that touch target and NO I don't have fat fingers.
  • Regarding slanted versus upright pinned items, what does "lives on your device" exactly mean? Is the meaning your "slanted-pinned" content is automatically over-writable if you run out of storage and your "upright-pinned" content is permanent unless you manually delete?
  • This simply means that the book (or anything, really) can be accessed without a network connection. It's stored on your device, like a picture you took with the camera. This is opposed to something not pinned, where you need a network in order to access it because it's in the cloud Posted via Android Central App
  • Thanks. I guess didn't word my question very clearly. I'll try again. In the article Jordan wrote:
    " — some pins may be slanted while others may be upright depending on whether a particular book lives on your device."
    I was trying to figure out the difference between slanted and upright. Both can be accessed offline. There must be some other distinction.
  • Thanks. How about magazines? I would love to be able to delete magazines from my library but cannot find a way. Posted via Android Central App
  • Wish there were better organization tools. I've uploaded a ton of books and it can really be a pain to browse through them. The ability to select multiple titles and tag/genre/bookshelf them all at once would be a great start. And like with Google Music, I'm close to my upload limit. There doesn't seem to be a way to purchase more storage space like you can with Drive. Posted via the Android Central App
  • How do I change the storage location on a Razr M from internal to external?
  • I downloaded a book named Science and Technology in World History from Google Play. Instead of a successful download, I received a copy of The Globalization of Martyrdom. It is not my cup of tea. How can I delete this book and get the book I actually purchased?