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Anthologies, Collections, Compendiums, and the Omnibus

  • admin@stratton1
  • May 6, 2017
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  • Blog

What is the difference between these four types of books?

Imagine yourself entering a bookstore. It is in the middle of the day, there is absolutely no one, and you greedily sweep your eyes over the displays of printed treasure. You stop and your eyes linger over this display of incredibly heavy looking books and you wonder what they are. Upon closer inspection, you find out that there are four books: an anthology, a collection, a compendium, and an omnibus. All four are hardbound, almost identically thick, and intimidating, and as you stand there, you wonder, what is the difference between these four?

Let us help you out.


An anthology is a book or other collection of selected writings by different writers. Created with a theme in mind, it is a compilation of similar literary forms, set in a similar time, or on the same subject. Often put together by editors or compilers, the stories within anthologies are usually short stories, novellas, or poetry.


A collection is a book of selected writings from various books by one author of the same theme or idea. The difference of a collection as opposed to an anthology is that an anthology is a collection of stories by several authors surrounding a theme, while a collection is a compilation of short stories by just one author surrounding a theme.


From the Latin word compenso, which means “to weigh together or balance,” a compendium is a concise compilation of a body of knowledge. It is normally about a specific human interest like psychology, religion, or a certain branch of philosophy, or cuisine or endeavors like hiking, free diving, or even animal husbandry. Compendiums really specific, so expect something along the lines of ceramic formulas, specific groups in history like the Cistercian Order, or even about groceries.


An omnibus is not ominous, but a volume of books compiled by a single author or of works related in interest or theme. A compilation of several completed books, the omnibus represents a particular interest of the author, especially if the author is particularly prolific. Normally, there are just two to three books in an omnibus. An example would be Stephen King’s omnibus with a psychological horror theme.

We hope that this will clear up the confusion of why these four kinds of books are different. Perhaps one day you will be able to use this sort of information along the line in your career as a published author or editor.

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