A work in progress...
Standard Comic Issue
The typical American comic book is 6.625" x 10.25" and 28-36 pages and staple bound. Also called "pamphlets" by some.
Quoting Fnord Serious: "Trade Paperback (TPB) is a collection of serialized comics, usually [4 or more] issues of an ongoing comic, but can also be a collection of a miniseries, [newspaper strips] or an anthology of short stories or numerous other contents." That's in the narrow view of the comics world. In book publishing in general, it's a paperback that's larger than a mass market paperback.
Quoting Fnord Serious: "Manga is a collection of serialized manga (aka Japanese comics). They are normally in b&w, 5" x 7", and run upwards of 200 pages." I have the same problem with this as Soda, but might use tankoubon (sp?) instead of pocket book, but I understand that isn't a commonly known term. Ideally we would have categories for medium or content, format and size as well.
Self explanatory? Any book that has a hard cover.
Original Graphic Novel
In general, the modern use of "graphic novel" seems to be applied to anything with a spine whether it contains original content or reprinted material. This is due to many factors that I won't get into here. It's also incorrect. In terms of the database, I use it only for bound books with mostly original content that are paperback. Number of pages doesn't factor into it as far as I'm concerned, but it's rare to find any under 48 pages. Soda's comments about it have merit, especially considering the European albums/BD, but ultimately it's up to Chris.
Comics which are read online, usually via a web browser.
A collection of short stories.
Quoting DarthSkeptical: "Of the formats currently available, there's no doubt that "bookshelf" is the least useful. It's basically a subset of the original graphic novel. In other words, all bookshelf comics are OGNs, but not all OGNs are bookshelf comics.
Essentially a bookshelf comic is a format of first publication in which the intent is that it will be of such high binding quality you could confuse it with an ordinary novel and put it on your--you guessed it--bookshelf. Importantly, the comic originally was meant for publication in that format. They are hardbacks. And, as you might by now suspect, they usually conform to a standard size for a book, which means that they're irregularly sized versus comics or trades.
To give some examples, ninthart.com gives out annual awards called the Ninth Art Lighthouse Awards. One of their categories is "Best Bookshelf Comic". In 2003, the winner was Persepolis, and the runners up were Blankets, Planetes, and Sandman: Endless Nights. Now, if you look at these in our database, these haven't been categorized as "Bookshelf". That's because it's true to say that "Bookshelf comics" are also "Hardcovers" or "Original Graphic Novels". We also have some confusion over the acronym "TPB", in which we tend to emphasize the second two initials, "Paper Back", over the first, "Trade". We like to use this term to refer to anything that's softcover. And that's technically incorrect. While an OGN can be originally published as a SC, and while that SC can be of exactly the same size as a TPB, it can never be a trade. Trades are definitionally reprints.
Really, to make this all clearer, what we should have is one category for BINDING (in which we'd choose from HC, SC, and magazine) and another for FORMAT (in which we'd choose from things like: TRADE, OGN, COMIC BOOK, POSTER BOOK and MAGAZINE); and yet another for SIZE (in which we'd pull down from a variety of American, British and international sizes).
Note that even with this nomenclature, "bookshelf" kinda falls by the wayside. As it should. Because "bookshelf" is very much a subjective term, and, ultimately, a redundant one. There's a reason that there is no Eisner award for "Best Bookshelf Comic". There's only "Best Graphic Album--New", into which everything we'd call an OGN or a Bookshelf would fall, hardcover or not."
Bookshelf seems to have been mistakenly adopted as the format for the paperback prose novels that are entered here.
Quoting Fnord Serious: "Magazine format refers to a comic published at standard magazine size (approx 8.5" x 11") rather than the smaller standard comic book size (roughly 7" x 10")"
While webcomics are digital, Digital Media is reserved for comics that can be downloaded via iTunes, Comixology, Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, and other similar sources. Graphic Imaging Technology's DVD-ROM collections also come under this format.
Just what it sounds like, but the size and number of pages can vary greatly. I have one that's the size of my thumbnail. Can be staple or square bound. Primarily the purview of independent creators and self published, but mainstream publishers have released them too. Comics that are pack-ins with toys and DVDs can fall under this as well.
Quoting Fnord Serious: "Prestige Format is the term that DC came up with in the 80's to describe square bound issues with 48 to 64 pages of story. It was also referred to as the Dark Knight format for a while because the Dark Knight Returns was one of the earliest and most successful books to be published in that format." This type of format is pretty rare these days, but you still see them here and there.
In the Golden Age these were initially the same format as a standard comic, and its purpose was to secure the copyright of a title. In the Modern Age, ashcans usually have smaller dimensions, and are used as promo/advertisement material.
Flipbooks have two different covers, and the content in one half the book is upside down compared to the other half. Look at nearly every issue of Marvel Comics Presents or Dark Horse Presents for an example. Cataloging these in the database can sometimes be complicated since each side of the comic can have its own unique indicia and title. With a comic like that, and in doubt of which title to start with, I start with the title on the cover that has a UPC first.
A non-professional magazine produced by fans. Before the rise of the internet, many of today's professionals got their start in fanzines. Prozines are sometimes cataloged under this format as well.
Other Comic-Related Media
Anything which doesn't fall under any of the above formats. Newspapers, for example, which are printed upon a fold-out broadsheet.
Any particular comic could have more than one of the above "formats" applied to it. The database currently only allows one to be chosen at the moment though, so it's the user's best guess as to what to go with when they enter a book. I favor using Original Graphic Novel, Hardcover and Trade Paperback above other formats that might apply. That separates them from the rest of the content in the last 100 issues added lists on the front page.