How can I tell if a Google Play Book is legit, i.e. submitted or sold by the author, publisher, or party with permission, and not a malware linking/containing or deliberately misleadingly edited bootleg?

Google Play has at least 3 elements of style to its eBook listings:

• Whether the author name links to a list of other books available on the store written by the same author or links to an “about the author” page.

• Whether the seller/publisher name is preceded by “Sold by”

• Whether the seller/publisher name links to other eBooks they sell here

A. One Second After has its author name linked to its “about the author” page, its publisher name preceded by “Sold by”, and its publisher name not linked.

One Second After

B. Rick & Morty Vol. 1 has its author name linked to its “about the author” page, its publisher name not preceded by “Sold by”, and its publisher name not linked.

Rick & Morty Vol. 1

C. The Secret of Game Coding: Game Coding Complete Guide has its author name linked to other books by the same author—none on Google Play—no “about the author” page, its publisher name not preceded by “Sold by”, and its seller/publisher name is linked.

The Secret of Game Coding: Game Coding Complete Guide

eBooks A & B are listed under the featured “Topsellers Under $10” section, have many positive reviews, and are likely legit. Why does A have the “Sold by” and B does not?

eBook C seems fishy. Its title is different from its print and NOOK edition’s, which is Game Coding Complete, Fourth Edition. Are there any cases for any book in which the Google Play edition’s title is different than the print or other eBook editions’?

The Google Play edition is $1.14, whereas the NOOK’s is $41.99. Is Google Play’s edition a bootleg? The publisher of the print and NOOK editions is Cengage Learning. The seller of the Google Play edition is BookSmart. Does Google allow the seller to not be the publisher? Googling BookSmart turns up nothing relevant to this seller in the top 10 results.

Aside from the title not matching its print edition’s, C’s main difference vs. A & B is that C has no link to “about the author” and C’s seller name links to the seller’s other items. Are either factors cautionary signs that can be applied to Google Play books in general?

1 Answer 1


It's very common for the listing for publisher to be the company that formatted and produced the ebook. I wouldn't read too much significance into that. Sometimes this conversion services just duplicate everything -- though it is peculiar that it doesn't include some identification on the title page.

Booksmart is the name of an application for blurb.com. It is not the name of a conversion company. (That is suspicious!) Also, note that the other items published by Booksmart all seem to be free. https://play.google.com/store/books/author?id=BookSmart

I see all sorts of discrepancies on prices between BN, Amazon and GPB, but generally GPB tends to have the highest prices of them all. That's why it sounds suspicious.

It's hard to believe that someone has got through the hoops to get ebooks listed on GPB. (I have published 10 ebooks and still can't figure out how to get listed on GPB easily). But someone has managed to do so.

As an aside, this is just a PDF of the original printed ebook. (That's why it's not listed on Kindle -- formatting it properly would have been too difficult.

  • +1 for the useful info, but my question regards those specific product listing conventions. Regarding your last paragraph, what do you mean by "PDF of the original printed ebook"? Do you mean it’s a printscreen/screen grab of the original eBook, and if so, which platform's is the original? In any case, how did you determine eBook C on GPB is a PDF, without buying it? Or did you buy it? Is eBook C on GPB a pirated copy?
    – CodeBricks
    May 14, 2018 at 4:26
  • 1
    I did a preview of the ebook -- either from my browser or from my tablet on GPB. The formatting looked awfully sophisticated; it's nearly impossible to create an epub with that elaborate formatting. There must be a way to upload an PDF to GPB Store which I don't know about. May 14, 2018 at 15:36

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