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Collection Development - Adult Fiction

5. Adult Fiction Collections


Classics of literature, popular best sellers, critically-acclaimed first time authors, and genre fiction (spy fiction, gothic fiction, romance and historical fiction) make up the Fiction collection. Mystery, western and science fiction novels, which include fantasy, are shelved in separate sections in library locations where space permits, for the browsing and reading convenience of library customers. The primary purpose of the Fiction collection is to satisfy the heavy demand from recreational readers for popular, new titles. Current best sellers are bought in multiple copies to satisfy anticipated demand. Emphasis is on American and British authors. Classic and popular current authors from other countries are included in English translation, but on a limited basis. Short story collections appeal to a smaller audience and are generally restricted to major authors and award-winning titles. In addition to recreational reading, the needs of high school and university students are considered when selecting materials.

Very little retrospective development is needed, except for filling out the complete works of important and/or popular authors. An emphasis should be placed on replacing worn out editions of older, but important, titles with new hardbound editions or new trade paperbacks so as to encourage customer use. New translations of classics that receive critical acclaim should be considered for purchase, or new editions should be purchased as needed. The focus should be on having enough multiple copies of high-demand books to satisfy customer requests as quickly as possible while maintaining collection depth by purchasing as broadly as possible.


The Mystery collection includes a wide range of detective and mystery writers, with a heavy emphasis on the American and British mystery. Espionage, suspense and adventure tales are generally classified as fiction unless the work has more of a mystery theme. The collection includes representative works of important and/or popular authors. Many mysteries run in series and importance should be placed on buying and retaining all works in a series by popular mystery authors. Special emphasis is given to collecting the complete works of important and/or popular authors, either in paperback or hardcover. New authors and popular established authors' new publications should not be neglected; thus, it is important to maintain a rigorous weeding program to free up shelf space.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

This collection consists of science fiction and fantasy books, written by classic and contemporary authors. Science fiction works examine futuristic developments and the many possible variations of society. Fantasy is a mixture of romance, historical fiction, magic and fairy tales set in another world or time. The science fiction collection appeals to both younger readers and adults. Short stories in this genre are more popular with readers than in other areas of literature. The most popular authors are published in hardcover, but most science fiction and fantasy is published in paperback. Series are common in this genre and an effort should be made to buy and retain all books in a series of popular or classic science fiction and fantasy literature.


The Western collection consists of traditional western range stories, cowboy and Indian stories, cavalry tales, shoot-em up town stories, mountain men tales and a variety of stories with a western theme. Short stories and novels are generally published in paperback, with hardcover being reserved for the most popular and classic authors. As the genre has slowed in publishing, emphasis should be placed on discovering new authors and retaining series and individual copies of classic and popular authors.