It’s no secret that I’m absolutely in love with Google Play Books. I don’t even use Kindle because I’ve dedicated myself to buying books on Google’s ecosystem when and wherever possible. You not only have a more gorgeous user interface but also own your content and can export it in universal formats when and if you ever decide to move on to something else (unlike Kindle!)
While other Google services are getting much of the spotlight, I’m focusing on Play Books as I don’t think it ever gets enough love. Yesterday, I spoke about how the 10th anniversary Google Play Store redesign also brought a Books library refresh that makes it much more usable, and how you can now read comfortably without needing to install the Store itself on your Chromebook if you’re strapped for space or RAM.
After some tinkering, I realized that the Books web app now has a new feature in beta that ties directly in with the obsession I’ve had for the past two years with Google’s Collections feature! By going up to the cogwheel at the top right of the website and choosing “Play Books Beta Features”, I discovered that you are now able to place your book notes and highlights – otherwise known as “annotations” into Collections on your Google account.
However, it gets better! You can then take those collections and enable sharing on them. That’s right, any student will realize the power of shared annotations and book notes. By simply opening the annotations panel at the top right of an open book (it looks like a rectangle with three vertically aligned squares attached to it as seen below), you can select the dropdown for said annotation and place it into a custom-named collection.
Tapping the “Save” will finalize your changes, and then you can click “Share” to add anyone by their email address or simply copy a sharing link. I tested this out with a few people and found that they could see the annotation as well as the book if they owned the same book that I was sharing from, but if they did not, they could only see the annotation and that snippet. They were then asked to buy the book.
This makes sense, and it’s understandable, as Google isn’t about to create a way for anyone to have access to any book without paying, right? I also noticed that this beta feature was only available on one of my accounts via my Chromebook on Play Books for the web. It was not available on another account via Windows, so it may be that it’s Chromebook specific, but I believe it’s more likely just available in a limited rollout at this time. Let me know if this feature sounds interesting to you. I’m moving all of my book notes from Google Keep to annotations in Play Books over time, so it’s great to see some collaborative superpowers come to the service after so long.