A graphic novel (GN) is a long-form work in the comics form, usually with lengthy and complex storylines, and often aimed at mature audiences. In contrast to the familiar comic magazines, a graphic novel is typically bound using materials of more durable qualities, using a light card stock for softcover bindings or a heavier card for the hardback editions, enclosed in a dust jacket. Graphic novels generally are sold in bookstores and comic book shops, rather than on comic books' original point of sale, newsstands. The term can also encompass a short story collection, or collected issues of previously published comic books republished in a single large volume.
Comic works created and published as a single narrative, without prior appearance in magazines, comic books or newspapers, are called original graphic novels (OGN).
The evolving term "graphic novel" is not strictly defined, and is sometimes used, controversially, to imply subjective distinctions in artistic quality between graphic novels and other kinds of comics. It suggests a story that has a beginning, middle and end, as opposed to an ongoing series with continuing characters; one that is outside the genres commonly associated with comic books, and that deals with more mature themes. It is sometimes applied to works that fit this description even though they are serialized in traditional comic book format. The term is commonly used to disassociate works from the juvenile or humorous connotations of the terms "comics" and "comic book", implying that the work is more serious, mature, or literary than traditional comics. Following this reasoning, the French term "Bande Dessinée" is occasionally applied, by art historians and others schooled in fine arts, to dissociate comic books in the fine-art tradition from those of popular entertainment, even though in the French language the term has no such connotation and applies equally to all kinds of comic strips and books.
In the publishing trade, the term is sometimes extended to material that would not be considered a novel if produced in another medium. Collections of comic books that do not form a continuous story, anthologies or collections of loosely related pieces, and even non-fiction are stocked by libraries and bookstores as "graphic novels" (similar to the manner in which dramatic stories are included in "comic" books).
Whether manga, which has had a much longer history of both novel-like publishing and production of comics for adult audiences, should be included in the term is not always agreed upon. Likewise, in continental Europe, both original book-length stories such as La rivolta dei racchi (1967) by Guido Buzzeli, and collections of comic strips have been commonly published in hardcover volumes, often called "albums", since the end of the 19th century.