Raise your hand if you’ve had this problem: You just ordered an adorable-looking new book online, but when it arrives, it’s not at all the size you expected! It won’t slide comfortably in the slot you’d designated on your little bookshelf, yet it’s too small to function as a coffee table book. Worst of all, it won’t fit in your new Kate Spade purse!
I’m seeing a lot of hands. The situation is dire.
But wait, what’s that gentle breeze from above? It’s a friendly Amazon drone delivering the good news that they’re now providing a way to avoid this conundrum, aside from, you know, buying your books at brick-and-mortar establishments, where you can try out slipping them into your bag for yourself. (NB: Remember to take the book out and pay for it before leaving the store.)
Amazon’s new widget allows you to ascertain the height of a book before paying to have it shipped to you, without the fear of accidental theft. The feature shows the book cover image held in the hands of a human outline -- presumably a human of average size -- while showing the book’s height in inches alongside it.
Keen-eyed tweeters have been commenting wryly on this feature since at least March 2015, but it’s time for this useful graphic to be more widely discussed.
The tool replicates part of the in-person shopping experience that the online shopping titan hadn't captured before: The moment when you stand calmly, holding the book against your ribcage with your palms, to see whether it feels just right. Also, the ability to easily assess the relative size of the book as an object. It's just another way to make sure you don't end up with the same problem as the woman who bought a dining room table on eBay and found out later that it was doll-sized. Sort of.
Meanwhile, some are wondering openly whether the size of a book even matters. Do people really care as much as Amazon seems to think? As of press time, Amazon had not responded to our query about why this tool was created.
Some readers do heedlessly purchase books regardless of height and heft, attracted to the content rather than the packaging. Even when it comes to size, tastes vary -- some might relish the comforting size of large, impressive tomes while others enjoy the feather weight of a tiny paperback. Listen, whatever does it for you!
If you want to accessorize properly, however, it's important to keep in mind that books are there to accentuate your personal style, not to distract from it. Amazon already makes it easy to buy only books with white covers, for example, so it's a natural next step to make sure we can only buy books that slide easily into our cutest handbags or that will exactly match the heights of all our other books. Unbroken, clean lines on your bookshelf, as in your wardrobe, are a winning look.
Amazon's book size graphic has just one glaring problem: It measures the books against a humanoid stand-in, rather than you, the future holder of those books. Why not update this tool to allow users to upload full body shots to see how Fifty Shades of Grey would look cradled in our own hands? Get on this, Amazon. The people are waiting.
Related on HuffPost: