There is a significant – if little read – literature of cataloging theory. A recurrent theme is the balance between gathering like items, and discriminating between them. Managing similarity and difference in this way, and making sensible user interface choices, is not straightforward.
The FRBR model represents a recent approach to a part of this question: how to gather things that are in some way instances of the same intellectual work (a discretionary decision*), and how to distinguish sensibly between these things (critical editions, for e.g, or translations, etc).
… More recently, OCLC Research has been experimenting to see what data is available for display in a consolidated way at the work level. See a sample set of pages here, and some background detail here [pdf].
(That’s on frbr.oclc.org, an interesting hostname, but there’s no home page there.)