“Herman Melville Books,” Rather Than “Moby-Dick,” Is Google’s Doodle Query

    October 18, 2012
    Chris Crum

Update: They’ve actually changed the query to “herman melville books” rather than just “herman melville”. It still takes you to the Herman Melville Knowledge Graph results. You can still see Google.in has it pointing to “herman melville”.

As previously reported, Google is running a doodle honoring author Herman Melville and the 161st anniversary of the original publish date of his novel Moby-Dick.

As usual, the other side of the world got a look at it first, as October 18th came first in places like Australia, New Zealand and India, to name a few. This morning, the rest of us woke up to the image on our native Google homepages.

Yesterday, we looked at how Google was showing off its Knowledge Graph results with the doodle, which when clicked, takes you to results for “herman melville” rather than “moby-dick”.

In fact, either query will take you to Knowledge Graph results, but what is interesting about Google’s book-related Knowledge Graph results, is that they point you to Google Books pages in addition to the Wikipedia pages for the subjects. Herman Melville takes you to Wikipedia. Moby-Dick has a Wikipedia link, but the main clickable image takes you to Google Books, where you can purchase the ebook version.

It’s an interesting choice that Google would point the doodle to the “herman melville” results rather than the “moby-dick” results, given that the doodle is clearly about the novel rather than the man, and the date itself is about the publication of the book, rather than Melville’s birthday (as sometimes, Google will run doodles honoring birthdays).

Perhaps Google did not want to make the doodle seem like an ad for one of its own products (Google Books), in light of antitrust-related scrutiny the company faces from regulators.

It’s entirely possible that we’re simply reading too much into this, but it’s an interesting choice nonetheless, considering the timing.