'Book' vs 'Novel': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on October 12, 2023

Are you wondering about the difference between 'book' vs. 'novel?'

Here is the short answer: 

  • 'Book' is a noun, adjective, and verb that means to make an appointment or a group of written pages that are bound together. 
  • 'Novel' is an adjective and noun that means a new idea or something that has not been previously identified or discovered or a made-up narrative that deals with a connected series of events. 

There is more to learn about these terms, though. So, keep reading to learn the definition, use, pronunciation, and more about 'book' and 'novel!'

What is the Difference Between a 'Book' vs. 'Novel?'

'Book' and 'novel' can both refer to a literary work. However, the 'novel' genre consists of a specific category of books. 'Novels' are fictional prose that tells a story often with many parts, events, and characters.

  • 'Novels' are typically broken down into chapters, but other 'books' may or may not contain chapters or sections.

Another difference between them is their alternative meanings. 'Book' can be a noun, verb, or adjective. As a verb, it means to record something or to make someone face the law.

As an adjective, it means of or relating to books, for example, 'book' bag. As a noun, it can refer to the records of a business, a book of business, a bookie's book, a guidebook, or all of the information available on a given subject.

'Novel' can be a noun or adjective. As an adjective, it can mean new, novel, or unprecedented. As a noun, it can mean a 'book' classified within the novel genre or a fictional literary narrative.

Definition of 'Book': What Does 'Book' Mean?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines 'book' as a noun that means:

  • A group of written pages of skin, paper, wood, or ivory
  • A bound printed or written literary composition
  • A major portion of a literary work
  • A record of business transactions or financial records is sometimes referred to as a business book.
  • A comic, magazine, guide, or e-book
  • Something that provides knowledge, information, or instruction on a specific matter
  • All of the experience and knowledge available on a subject to be used to solve a problem
  • The best practices or standards relevant to a subject
  • The complete charges that can be brought against an accused by law
  • Items bound together like a book
  • A bookmaker
  • In card games like Spades, the total number of tricks a player or their partner has to make before tricks count as a score or bag
  • The bets taken by a bookie
  • A collection of business contacts or clients (i.e., book of business)

'Book' can also be an adjective that means:

  • Of or relating to books
  • Accounting shown in a register

'Book' can also be a verb that means:

  • To make an appointment
  • To schedule something
  • To record something in a register or calendar
  • To make a reservation
  • To enter criminal charges against someone
  • To set aside an allotted time for an activity, meeting, or event
  • To notate the name of a player to charge them with a serious infraction

Synonyms and Similar Words to 'Book'

  • Paperback
  • Hardcover
  • Pamphlet
  • Textbook
  • Magazine
  • Comic
  • Volume
  • Encyclopedia
  • Anthology
  • Album
  • Register
  • Record
  • Guide
  • Text
  • Folio
  • Novel

Definition of 'Novel': What Does 'Novel' Mean?

The same dictionary defines 'novel' as a noun that means:

  • A fictional prose narrative that deals with human experiences and is typically long and complex
  • The literary genre of novels

'Novel' can also be an adjective that means:

  • New or not resembling anything that was formerly used, created, or known
  • Newly identified or discovered
  • New or original, or striking, especially in concept or style

Synonyms and Similar Words to 'Novel'

  • Narrative
  • Fiction
  • Story
  • Tale
  • Fabrication
  • Yarn
  • Fable
  • Anecdote
  • Lie
  • Phantasy
  • Book
  • Novelette
  • Text
  • Monograph
  • Pulp
  • Casebook
  • Textbook
  • Guidebook
  • Catalog
  • New
  • Original
  • Strange
  • Fresh
  • Unprecedented
  • Innovative
  • Discover

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Book' vs. 'Novel'

Pronunciation is often overlooked, but as a writer, verbal communicator, or public speaker, it is crucial to learn how to correctly pronounce frequently used terms 'book' and 'novel.'

So, here is a brief pronunciation guide for 'book' vs. 'novel.'

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'book':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'novel':


Tips for When and How to Use 'Book' vs. 'Novel'

You learned the difference between a 'book' vs. 'novel,' but these terms each have a few meanings. So, here are a few tips to help you determine when to use each.

  • Use 'book' for a literary work that is written or printed and bound.

For example, you could say:

She just finished writing her first book about lions and tigers

  • Use 'book' or 'books' for the financial records of a business.

So, I might say:

I hate accounting, but I have to balance my business books this week. 

  • Use 'book' as a verb for the act of scheduling an appointment, event, vacation, meeting, or service.

As an example, someone might tell you:

Call my office and ask my secretary to book an outcall appointment for you next week. 

  • Use 'book' for the action an officer takes when they bring someone to jail to answer for their crimes.

So, you can say:

The officer took the offender to be booked at the county jail. 

  • Use 'novel' to describe a lengthy fictional literary work classified in the 'novel' genre.

For example, you might say:

Excuse me, can you tell me where the new novel by Stephen King comes out? 

  • Use 'novel' for something groundbreaking, new, or unprecedented.

As an example, you could say:

She won the competition for her novel storm management approach. 

Sample Sentences Using 'Book' vs. 'Novel'

Now, read these sample sentences using 'book' vs. 'novel' to ensure you remember the difference between them and learn additional ways to use each word.


  • It will take you some time to prepare a book on the subject.
  • If you want to write a non-fiction book, you must carefully research and vet your sources.
  • Are you pulling my leg? I didn't even know you wrote a book, and now you are telling me you are a best-selling author.
  • Did you book our vacation, or are you waiting for Lily and Mary to confirm that they can join us?


  • You have to read this novel when I finish it. I haven't been able to put it down for the past three days.
  • I like reading a novel on a rainy day like today.
  • Grab a cup of coffee and your favorite novel because you are going to be waiting for a while.
  • Developing novel ideas requires extensive knowledge and skill.


  • She started writing the outline for her book, a novel loosely based on her journeys around the globe and the weird and intriguing people she met.
  • If you are looking for an interesting book, check out the Illuminatus trilogy of novels.

Recap: The Difference Between 'Book' vs. 'Novel'

Finally, let's review what you learned about the difference between 'book' vs. 'novel': 

  • 'Book' is a noun, verb, and adjective that means a collection of written or printed pages bound together, a record of financial transactions, or the act of making an appointment or booking someone. 
  • 'Novel' is a noun and adjective that means a lengthy fictional literary work that is typically divided into sections or chapters or something new, original, or previously undiscovered.

Before you go, check out some of the other guides in the confusing words section here. Each lesson starts with a summary you can use to verify the meaning of commonly misused and mistaken terms quickly.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

Add new comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WritingTips.org Newsletter
Receive information on
new articles posted, important topics, and tips.
Join Now
We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.