Getting Google eBooks outside the US

For the time being Google only offers its eBook app in the United States. However, if you own an Android device it is not hard to install it. Obviously, you cannot do so from the Android market, but you can still download the books.apk file from the Internet (try Googling it). Once you have found it, it is really easy to install it: send it to yourself via email and you will be able to install the attached file on your phone (the Gmail app even has “install” instead of the usual “download” option for attached apk files).

As an eReader the app is rather poor: there is no dictionary and no possibility to take notes, which makes it not the best app to be used in class. However, it allows you to synchronize your reading across devices (PC, tablet, phone) and you can pick up reading from where you last left disregarding where you read the book.
This is similar to Kindles whisper sync feature. Even though Google Books app does not compare yet to the Kindle app, there is one big advantage to it: you will find more free eBooks for the Google Books app. Google boasts to have almost 3.000.000 free eBooks from the public domain (similar to Gutenberg). Even though most of these are probably only interesting to historians there are a number of free eBooks which are useful for teaching and learning English (from Alice in Wonderland to Sherlock Holmes).

Google Books uses two eBook formats: epub for “flowing text” and pdf for the “original” (scanned page from the original book). The latter option might be interesting for historians and lovers of old books, but only makes sense if you read them on an Android tablet. 

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