Fact Checking the Octopus

Kenny Brechner - November 7, 2019

Last week Mervyn, DDG’s Octopus oracle, delivered his predictions as to which titles would sell strongly during Downtown Farmington’s Early Bird sale. It is time now for us to do some fact checking.
The Early Bird started out with the usual spectacle of long, pre-dawn lines outside the downtown’s three story anchor store, Reny’s, whose well earned slogan is “Maine’s Shopping Adventure.” The Early Bird Sale involves all the downtown stores offering specials from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Reny’s offers time-sensitive specials. This means deeper discounts between 6:00-7:00, creating a bit of a stampede when the opening bells go off, as you can see in the photo.

I offer the same special every year, which has a bit of fun with the time-sensitive style offers.

We had a great early morning at the store.

Yet let us see how our actual sales correlated with Mervyn’s prognostications. First of all he had told me that as the new Jan Brett title was tiger and not winter themed, that it would not have the early bird appeal of her 2018 release, The Snowy Nap.
Kenny: I have to give it up to you, Mervyn. Last year we sold 13 copies of The Snowy Nap during Early Bird. This year we sold zero copies of The Tale of the Tiger Slippers.
Mervyn: You only have yourself to blame, Kenny. I told you to winterize the book by inserting trolls, mittens, and polar bears.
Kenny: Believe me, I know. I also have to give you credit for picking out Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat, and the new Dory Fantasmagory, Tiny Tough, as Early Bird standouts. I guess Klawde’s boasting about how he would outsell the other books in the chapter book neighborhood had some substance.
Mervyn: Boasting is very misunderstood, Kenny. Take me, my own assertion of oracular prowess is based on the exhibition of omniscience which has long been the hallmark of my every utterance.
Kenny: Oh really, then why did The Crayon’s Christmas outsell Dasher despite your prediction of the opposite? Also, great books though they are, we didn’t sell any copies of Dragon Night or The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep, despite your attestation that we would. How do you explain that?
Mervyn: Free will safeguards that I work hard to uphold. I purposely aim wide of the mark sometimes lest those who follow my every word fall into a laconic state of certainty about the path ahead of them. I have a responsibility to mix in false claims with true prophecies to protect humanity form the calamity of certainty.
Kenny:You are a high minded octopus, Mervyn. Is there any reason you didn’t predict that Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House and Mary Oliver’s Upstream would be our top Early Bird sellers?
Mervyn: In the case of Ninth House, I didn’t want to toss more wood on the raging fire of your self-regard as I knew you would feel those sales were due to your efforts out on the floor on its behalf.
Kenny: You think that is not the case?
Mervyn:Given my ability to shape the future I know better than to be so hands-on about it. You are an amateur oracle, my man. I knew you would influence the numbers of Ninth House sales but I had the vision and wisdom not to acknowledge it beforehand. You should thank me for not dashing your odious self-regard earlier.
Kenny: I’m so grateful, Mervyn,
Mervyn: No problem at all.

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