Collection (publishing)

Le Nez qui voque [fr]
L'Ordre du discours [fr]
Four titles from the Collection Blanche published by Éditions Gallimard.

In the field of book publishing, a collection, or more precisely editorial collection (French: collection éditoriale; Spanish: colección editorial; Italian: collana editoriale) is a set of books published by the same publisher, usually written by various authors, grouped under the same title, each book with a particular title. The collective title is the title of the collection, it must be mentioned on each book.[1]

The books that make up an editorial collection can be published in a specific order or not. When each volume in the collection has a serial number, it is called a numbered collection.[1]

A collection generally using distinctive, common formats and features. The title of a collection can be accompanied by the term “series” or its equivalents in other languages,[2] such as in the English-speaking world, for example, the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Découvertes Gallimard and Que sais-je ? are all termed book series instead of collections.

Brief history

The Spanish publisher Gaspar y Roig’s bookshop in 19th-century Madrid.

In France, the concept “collection” invented by Louis Hachette, a 19th-century publisher, under the name bibliothèque, which means “library”.[3]

In 19th and early 20th-century Spain, literary collections such as Biblioteca de Autores Españoles [es], Biblioteca Mignon [es], El Libro Popular [es] and La Novela Corta [es] were produced. Another collection created in 1851, in Madrid, the Biblioteca ilustrada de Gaspar y Roig [es], notably for its encyclopaedialike contents. It contains not only the literary works (popular novels of the 19th century), but also reference work (dictionary), Comte de Buffon’s Histoire Naturelle, Cesare Cantù’s Storia Universale, Juan de Mariana’s Historia general de España… and it even contains the whole Bible in Spanish (Biblia de Scío [es]).[4]

In Italy, the first editorial collection is Collana historica, which included the vulgarised works of twelve Greek historians, edited by the 16th-century humanist Tommaso Porcacchi and printed in Venice by Gabriele Giolito de' Ferrari from 1563 to 1585. They gave it this metaphorical use of the term: each work is a “ring” or “joy” of the collana (collana originally means “necklace”).[5]


Découvertes Gallimard, a collection with a specific “visual decoration”.
The celebrated collection Bibliothèque de la Pléiade.

A collection is characterized by having uniformity in the presentation, as well as by a certain affinity in the contents. For each book the same dimensions are used, the same type of cover, and also the same type of spine. In this regard, sometimes the same colours are used on the cover (in the case of the publishing houses Dalloz and Litec [fr]), and sometimes different colours or details are always systematically used (collection Bibliothèques of the Éditions du Cercle de la librairie [fr]). Generally, the grammage of the paper for each collection is always the same, as well as the typography applied, the cover design and page layout (collection Découvertes Gallimard). Certain collections even get to fix the number of pages, for example, the books in the collection Que sais-je ? always have 128 pages. A collection can be further subdivided into several series (or sub-collections),[1] for example, the collection Découvertes Gallimard contains seven series as well as several spin-off series.

The volumes of the same collection are also characterized by a defined content or style. Thus, a literary collection will have, for example, novels in their original language, translated works, works with literary value of national authors, or regroup texts of a certain subject or a certain genre, et cetera. In terms of documentary works, there are collections of school or university textbooks, collections of research works and collections of practical books. Some collections are distinguished by a very strong orientation towards specialisation, such as collection on the study of Egyptology, collection on jurisprudence, on pharmacy, astronomy… others inversely by an encyclopaedic tendency (in the case of Découvertes Gallimard). Some collections include both literary texts and documentary texts, such as Le Livre de poche, others are specialised in the classic books.

Undoubtedly, a publication in a collection format has its importance in terms of marketing. Given that a collection is characterized by a visual unity, with successive editions and with the help of propaganda, it can even lead to a degree of fidelity of the public, which obviously supports the commercial success of the collection. In many publishing houses, the tasks of selection of works and programming in general fall under the orbit of the “directors of collections”.[6][7]

Certain collections have had such fame, that sometimes they are considered or can be considered almost as independent publishing houses, such is the case with the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade edited by Éditions Gallimard.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Les collections éditoriales de livres". bnf.fr (in French). 11 December 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Collection éditoriale, section, sous-collection : définitions". bnf.fr (in French). 4 August 2008. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  3. ^ Frédéric Barbier; István Monok, ed. (2005). Les Bibliothèques centrales et la construction des identités collectives (in French). Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag. pp. 18–19. ISBN 978-3-86583-050-0. Retrieved 15 July 2018. Par suite, le terme de « bibliothèque » pourra, à terme, désigner une collection éditoriale (la « Bibliothèque rose » de Louis Hachette).
  4. ^ "«La Santa Biblia» traducida al español de la Vulgata latina por Felipe Scío de San Miguel (Madrid, 1852)". laopiniondecabra.com (in Spanish). 14 February 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  5. ^ Bongi, Salvatore (1895). Annali di Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari da Trino di Monferrato stampatore in Venezia, descritti ed illustrati, vol. II (in Italian). Rome: Martino Pub. p. 232.
  6. ^ "Directeur de collection". cidj.com (in French). Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  7. ^ Davies, Gill (2005). Gestión de proyectos editoriales: Cómo encargar y contratar libros (in Spanish). Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, Libraria. p. 134. ISBN 9789685374149. Retrieved 15 July 2018.

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