Novel vs. Book – What’s the Difference?


Novel vs. Book. What’s the Difference? The writer and the reader hold immense significance in the creation, evolution, and sustenance of the literary world. The wordsmith writes the book, and the reader finishes it. The writer is consumed by the passion of the craft flowing within, and the reader is captivated by the words printed on paper.

Contrary to what most believe, reading is not a passive habit but rather, it’s an action-packed adventure that allows us to experience a broad range of emotions, feelings, and thoughts. Every time we pick up a book to read or shop at our favorite bookstores, we’re mostly already prepared about what kind of book we’re looking for, whether it’s a novel or non-fiction, or poetry, comics, etc. Though we don’t focus much on the standards and regulations around book classifications, there’s always a specific kind that pulls us to it.

But what really is the difference between novel and book? Is it a type difference or a structural difference? Are novels and books the same? As a reader, these trivialities and complexities don’t matter much in the quest to find a good read. But as a writer, unraveling the novel vs. book debate will help you tremendously.

So, novel vs. book, what is the difference and how can you use this information to harness and hone your craft? Keep reading to find out.

Decoding the Difference Between Novel and Book

The terms novel and book are used so frequently and interchangeably that many of us consider them synonyms. But as we explore literary classifications and guidelines, we realize that the two terms are strikingly different. The novel vs. book debate demands us to turn our attention towards the semantics to understand the distinctive factors.

What is a novel?

A novel is strictly a work of fiction that presents a lengthy and highly detailed story, taking you on a long journey of growth, discovery, and a rewarding conclusion. The writer can combine various narrational and prose styles to captivate the reader and create an enchanting world for the characters to thrive. Novels are a powerful form of storytelling, and writers can choose their literary calling from a broad array of genres and subgenres.

Some popular novel genres include romance, historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, crime, thriller, horror, and more. Novelists are encouraged to expand their horizons and open themselves up for a wide array of creative dimensions. Head over to LivingWriter, a vibrant community for wordsmiths, to explore more genres and find your literary calling.

Novels are written with the aim of telling a complete story, which could be entirely fictional or inspired by real events. Wordsmiths who pen down novels are called novelists, and this name stems from their craft of storytelling. In order to classify a book as a novel, it must contain at least 40,000 words of fiction.

Many novelists use their stories to shed light on deep-rooted societal issues to help readers connect with the struggles of the downtrodden. Novels like Les Miserables, How to Kill a Mockingbird, and Gone with the Wind, take their readers into a world filled with tumultuous changes and events, allowing them to connect with the struggles of a particular period. For instance, To Kill a Mockingbird narrates the struggle of African Americans against racism and the impact of racism on the legal justice system. Likewise, Gone with the Wind beautifully pens down the experience of southerners during the American Civil War through the life and times of a charming southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara.

Novelists use their storytelling craft to tell powerful stories depicting historical narratives, societal evils, emotional and mental struggles, and cultural experiences. Some novels allow readers to experience the problems of the underprivileged, while others pen down stories of hope, heroism, and history.

What is a Book?

A book is classified as any written or printed literary work on any given subject or topic. It can be thought of as a collection of texts that offer insight and information on a specific field or subject matter. For instance, students study books added to their course materials to understand the basic concepts of subjects like science, history, and geography.

Likewise, texts carrying historical facts and narratives detailing the events of wars, treaties, and alliances are also termed books. Unlike novels, the term book encompasses a broad array of genres, niches, and literary classifications. So, why are books written?

Books are written to expand upon the information available on a subject matter, making the topic more comprehensive with newer revelations and discoveries. Unlike novels, books include both fiction and nonfiction and texts that combine both writing styles. Books can take readers on an adventurous journey to a faraway, magical land or offer educational insight with a research-driven case study.

It’s crucial to note that aside from novels, all books are classified under nonfiction. Wordsmiths who pen down books on any given subject are called authors and writers. These writers pen down lengthy volumes to analyze and discuss the topic at hand, decoding its fundamentals and shedding light on its principle mechanisms.

The author’s purpose is to educate and inform its reader in the most comprehensive and digestible manner. Many writers working with factual research and educational content like to enhance the reading experience by adding imagery, graphs, charts, and other visuals. Books written and designed for practical and theoretical learning help students expand their cognitive horizons by introducing new concepts.

Interestingly, a collection of tightly-bonded blank sheets to be used as writing materials is also termed a book. Remember the workbooks and exercise books we used to practice our letters and concepts back in school? We brought up this example to emphasize that there are numerous definitions and classifications of the term book.

But when we examine a book in the context of the novel vs. book debate, differentiating between fiction and nonfiction literary works is what matters the most. If you need help understanding the structure and guidelines for nonfiction texts, head over to LivingWriter to browse through incredible resources.

The Comparison: Novel Vs. Book

So far, we’ve learned that both novels and books are printed texts written with the purpose of educating, entertaining, and captivating their audience. So, what’s the difference between novel and book?

Remember, all novels are books, but not all books can be classified as novels. There are various differentiating factors, and we’re going to break them down for you to make it simpler.


The content of a novel makes it strikingly different from a typical book. A novel is strictly written in fiction or fictitious narratives inspired by actual events. But a book can contain all kinds of written and printed material, including fiction, nonfiction, empirical research, and more.

The content of a novel revolves around a fictional story, with the author deciding every thought, emotion, and action of the characters. Autobiographies are different in this regard, as they are based on the actual life and events of a person’s life. Memoirs and autobiographies, like Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, are not classified as fiction as they are based on real-life stories.

Intention & Purpose

Writing a book, be it a novel or nonfiction treatise, is by no means a purposeless endeavor. The author must find purpose to muster an unwavering intention to begin and successfully complete writing a book. Novelists and nonfiction writers are driven by a powerful sense of purpose.

Some intend to tell a story worth-regaling to an audience that will relate to the struggles or emotions depicted in the tale. Others write intending to contribute their research findings on a subject matter, expanding the knowledge of their readers.

Every writer has a purpose, and the purpose of the book makes it what it is, a novel, memoir, treatise, or educational resource.

Word Count

The word count is another crucial factor that differentiates a typical book from a novel. A book can be written within any word limit, as the writer does not have to adhere to the minimum word count standards. A novel, on the other hand, must contain at least 40,000 words to be classified as a novel.

Have you ever wondered why a collection of short stories isn’t called a novel but rather a book? For instance, the Safety of Objects by A. M. Homes is a collection of fictional short stories. But it is called a book rather than a novel as it does not meet the word count standard. A novel must contain at least 40,000 words depicting the same story rather than breaking the word limit into multiple stories.

Recommendations & Promotions

Have you ever wondered why the cover pages of novels contain numerous promotional taglines and glibs? For instance, why does the cover carry the phrase ‘New York Times’ bestseller’ and quotations from different magazines and book reviews? The publisher is entrusted with the marketing and promotion of the novel, who will design an appealing cover page to capture readers.

Novels contain glibs and phrases praising the author’s work and encouraging readers to buy and read the story. Interestingly, our textbooks and resources on history, economics, and algebra do not carry such phrases and glibs. The lack of promotional materials and recommendations makes novels different from books because not all books need promotion.

Structure & Plots

Novels have a strikingly different structure from books and academic resources. Novelists must lead their readers through a chronological sequence of events, spanning various periods, ages and locations. Naturally, the novelist will have to play around with multiple structural components while developing characters, introducing plot twists and climaxes, and drawing conclusions.

The structure of a novel is designed to make the plot responsive and evoke certain emotions in the reader. In contrast, nonfiction books do not dwell on emotions. Poetry can be an exception in this case, but most books provide information without a thrilling sequence of events.

Final Thoughts

It’s interesting to note that while the term novel is a somewhat recent construct, traced back to the 9th century, books have been around since the beginning of time. The earliest scriptures, including the Bible, Quran, Torah, and Bhagavad Gita, are classified as books. The term book is all-encompassing and infinite, but a novel comes with standard regulations and structures.

If you want to discover your true literary calling and direct your creativity towards a format you love, head over to LivingWriter now! Exposing yourself to creative resources and materials will help you find the most suitable format for your creative endeavors. Learning about the structure and standards of fiction and nonfiction is crucial to discovering the best medium for your intended purpose. 

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