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What the Dickens? Google uses doodle to (ultimately) sell books

Google is celebrating the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens with a doodle. But the doodle also seems to be trying to get you to use Google Books. Another example of Google's new commercialism?

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

There's a smell of brand-new commercialism over at Google. No more Mr. So Nice It Almost Seems Unreal Guy. Google's here to make money and to win. Your Google search results are now your Google+ search results.

But who would have thought--other than the most venal--that the company might even use its lovely doodles to, ultimately, make lovely oodles of cash?

Well, I am grateful to the bookish data-divers at Search Engine Watch for delving deeply into today's doodle, which celebrates the great poverty-sympathizing author, Charles Dickens.

It seems, you see, that Google has chosen today's doodle to say to us all: "Please, sir. Can I have some more?"

When you click on the doodle--hoping, perhaps, for it to animate, play, sing, or generally jiggle--you are whipped straight through to the search results for Dickens.

The first words that your eyes fall upon--at least in Google's dreams--are "free Google ebooks."

One had almost forgotten that books are available through Google. It seems that every time there is a headline with the words "Google" and "books," it also includes the word "court."

How charming, then, that beneath the words "free Google ebooks", there is one result for Dickens' Wikipedia page. There is also a pleasing array of search results--all for Google e-books of Charles Dickens' works.

Indeed, the whole page is full of these results, as are the subsequent pages.

This isn't, then, a search result at all. It's the Google Books search page for Charles Dickens. It's a pure, straight-up piece of commercial communication.

"How quaint," as Dickens might have said. "How lovely," as Ebeneezer Scrooge and Fagin might have chorused.

You might not see today's Google Books-pointing doodle as a moneymaking effort. After all, these Dickens e-books are free. And yet, surely, the aim is gravitate your mind and habits over to the Google eBookstore, where money is exchanged for enlightenment.

Some might find this commercialism rather brazen. I personally feel relieved that Google is using every amount of Mammon-mincing muscle in order to achieve its lofty (commercial) goals.

Perhaps someone at Google has been reading Dickens' most memorable quotes. For example: "The first rule of business is: Do other men for they would do you."

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET