How to share your books on Google Play Books

Gelo Gonzales
How to share your books on Google Play Books
You can create a network of up to 6 total members that can read purchased books

Digital content is king in the coronavirus era with physical stores shuttered, book stores included.

Ebooks are quite convenient although some people still prefer the smell and feel of paper. Another advantage: you can lend your books to friends and family when you’re done, or when your attention has strayed, and you just vow to finish it a later time, adding to your growing stack. 

Fortunately, in case you missed it, ebooks can also be shared. We’re looking at Google’s ebook platform today, specifically, on how to do just that. Google introduced this family sharing feature back in 2016. 

The process is fairly simple. Google has a step-by-step guide here, which just involves opening the Play Store app, and signing up for the Family Library feature. It’s free. Here are the steps:

  1. Open the Play Store app.

  2. In the top left, tap Menu > Account > Family > Sign up for Family Library.

  3. Follow the instructions on screen to set up Family Library. If you aren’t part of a family group, you’ll need to create one first.

At the end of the set-up you have the option of adding members through your contact list. Google says that member invitations can be done through email or a text message, and I did the latter. A text message was sent to the invited person, which included a link to join the family sharing network. 

Note that invited members need a device that’s new enough to run Google Play Books. It’s multiplatform too, so it’s supposed to be accessible through versions on the iOS, Android, and on desktop. The one creating the family sharing network also needs to have a credit card, is 18 years old, and isn’t part of any other family group. Members can only be a part of 1 family group at a time. 

Illustration from Google

Play Books only geo-locks on the country level, meaning that anyone living within that country can become part of the family network. Spotify, for instance, also has a family plan, but members have to be living under the same address to be qualified. What this means is that the app’s definition of family is pretty loose, and you can add people with whom you have no blood relation. 

Up to 5 family members can be invited to the sharing network. With the family manager included, that’s 6 members sharing content all-in-all. 

It’s not that hard to add a new member to the network after the initial sign-up, but the option isn’t easily found. On the Play Store app, tap on the three-line menu (or hamburger menu, if you’re an app developer) on the upper left corner, go to “Account,” and then the “Family” tab on the rightmost portion.  Tap “Manage family members,” and on there, you can add them. 

A Google Play help page  says invited members can purchase using the family manager’s credit card, and that purchase permissions can be turned on. But we tried purchasing using an invited member’s account, and the registered credit card appears to not have allowed it. It’s either that this option doesn’t work in the Philippines or it may vary depending on the credit card. 

Family sharing also works for apps and games in the Philippines, but movies appear to be non-shareable in the country at the time. 

Amazon Kindle also has a family sharing feature, but it’s limited to 2 members total. You can also lend purchased books once to a friend for 14 days, during which you cannot access the book until it’s been “returned” to you or the 14 days have lapsed. –

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.