Are graphic novels still books?

[Image is a comic cover. It shows a woman off to the right carrying a tray of coffee beverages. There's another barista who also is a Centaur. There are two cats on the bottom of the cover. The cover says "Moon Struck" by Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle]

As I was updating my Goodreads account with everything I had been reading in 2018, this dawned on me. I had been entering the trade paperbacks and comics I had been reading as “books” for this year. I figured if you can read something, it could count as a book. I absolutely adore Goodreads because it keeps my online bookshelf organized and I can follow my favorite book vloggers and see what they shelve. I’m not sure if there’s something that’s like Goodreads, but for comics. If there is a site that exists, I should create an account to keep my comics separate from my books. For now, I have been putting my comics under my books. Is this appropriate?

To answer this question, I decided to look up the definition of a book. Here are a couple that I found:




  1. A written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers.
  2. A work of fiction or nonfiction in an electronic format
  3. set of written, printed, or blank pages fastened along one side and encased between protective covers.
  4.  printed or written literary work

It’s interesting how the definition of a “book” has been modified over the years. With the internet, eBooks have had to be written into the definition of a book since that didn’t exist 30-40 years ago. Looking at the above definitions, it seems like a comic would be a book. Technically it’s a printed work with images and they are put together, probably not sewn.

Let’s take a look at the definition of a comic then and see what the difference is:



  1. a magazine that presents a serialized story in the form of a comic strip, typically featuring the adventures of a superhero.
  2. A magazine containing sequences of comic strips
  3. of or relating to or marked by comedy (definition of a comic)
  4. of or relating to comic strips

The definition of a comic versus a book is slightly different. Notice how comics are described as magazines. You can still “read” a magazine so does that mean a comic is a book?

I personally have no problem listing my comics on Goodreads. It helps me remember series I want to keep up with and since I have no idea if there’s a site specifically for comics, it helps to have everything in the same place. Should comics be classified as books?

11 thoughts on “Are graphic novels still books?

  1. This was a debate I had in my final year at University (technically twice if we are being pedantic) in our 21st century literature class. More specifically, should comics/graphic novels be considered literature. I was on the yes side of that debate. In the first debate, there was a lot of hostility to the idea and old fashioned thinking. Second time round, the class was much more open to the idea. What my argument was based on was that graphics are simply a precursor to written language, and the first written stories were paintings. I further argued that in some cases, a comic or graphic novel is more accessible universally because a picture is universal whereas a word is recognisable only to the people who read the specific language. I would recommend the book/graphic novel Understanding Comics by Scott Macleoud for a look at what makes comics comics. Alice in Sunderland (the name of the author escapes me) is also a really good graphic novel that delves a little into what comics are, though it is more about the life of Lewis Carroll and the history of the north east of england. Thanks for sharing this article, I have been trying to find a few more article titles to write about that were writing/literature related that are within my area, and you have inspired me to write a post in response to this. Admittedly much of that post will be this commented but with videos and graphics and better grammar. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point, I mean I do use each individual issue just because technically I “read” it and sometimes the trade for that comic hasn’t come out yet, so I want to still shelve it because the trade hasn’t been released yet.


  2. Comics are books but not novels. ‘Books’ is the umbrella term. I put them on my goodreads and count them towards my yearly goal. Now the next question is…what about Fanfiction???


  3. I also count them as books on Goodreads. And I totally agree with John 🙂 They’re literature too. Humanity started by telling stories using writing. Then it evolved until we have words, but we also combine pictures and words (more or less abstract forms of written communication) to tell stories. Thus, the only difference between a comic and a book is how the info is presented. Books can have illustrations, too. So, thumbs up for this post ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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