Working at Anthology, I commonly get asked what the difference is between literature and fiction and why we seperate the books the way we do. Besides the obvious size difference in the mass market and the trade size books, there are other reasons to differentiate between literature and fiction. The way I understand it is that literature is a work of lasting cultural significance or a novel that deals with universal themes. Literature, as opposed to fiction, tends to illuminate certain aspects of the human condition and also focus on writing style and character depth. Fiction can be described as a novel that has a specific audience and can be sub-divided into genres such as romance, science fiction, westerns, mystery, thriller, etc. Fiction (or genre fiction) tends to focus on plot and narrative instead of writing style. Of course, any book in one of these categories could cross-over into the literature category as well, and vice versa. Literature is not limited to the novel. Writings on history, poetry, philosophy, and science are also traditionally classified as literature, but here at Anthology, we keep our literature section specific to novels for the sake of simplicity. So, there is really no cut and dry method of determining what is considered literature and the methods of deciding the distinction are many.
I hope that makes it a little less confusing for our readers.
Thanks for reading!