Opening manuals, which discuss chess openings, are by far the most common type of literature on Chess play.
There are several types of opening manuals:
Manuals dealing with one specific opening - Often these manuals have highly optimistic titles, like Black to Play and Win with 1...g6 (Andy Soltis), but some are more modest: starting out: the king's indian (Joe Gallagher). In general, these books are the most accessible to the general reader, and cover the most material for individual opening systems.
Manuals giving a system or repertoire - These manuals discuss two or more opening systems, often related by similar tactical themes, pawn structures, or strategic aims. The aim is generally to get the player to the middle game with a playable position without too much trouble, no matter what the opposing player does.
Manuals giving general opening advice and guidance - Possibly the most famous example of this type of manual (in English) is Reuben Fine's The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings. This type of book doesn't analyze any opening system to much depth, but teaches the ideas that will help you understand opening play.
Encyclopedic manuals that aim to be comprehensive - These manuals, from the five volume Encyclopedia of Chess Openings to the single volume works like Nunn's Chess Openings, aim to cover as many opening systems as possible at the expense of understanding the ideas behind the opening. Usually, at the end of a sequence of moves, the reader is told that one side stands slightly better than the other. However no information is given on what that assessment is based on or how to proceed in the game.
Chess opening literature:
How to Play the Opening in Chess. 1993. Raymond Keene and David Levy. ISBN 0-8050-2937-0.
The Encyclopedia of Chess Openings - This is a very technical advanced work in 5 volumes published by Chess Informant of Belgrade. It analyzes openings used in tournament play and archived in Chess Informant since 1966. Instead of the traditional names for the openings, it has developed a unique coding system that has also been used by other chess publications.
Batsford Chess Openings 2. 1989, 1994. Garry Kasparov and Raymond Keene. New York, New York: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0-8050-3409-9.
Nunn's Chess Openings. 1999. John Nunn (Editor), Graham Burgess, John Emms, Joe Gallagher. ISBN 1-8574-4221-0.
Modern Chess Openings: MCO-14. 1999. Nick De Firmian, Walter Korn. ISBN 0-8129-3084-3.