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Cesar Millan Signs, We Whine

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Every week we round up all the bookish events happening in LA and we present them in the Get Your Lit On series Monday mornings. This Monday, an astute LAist reader asked us a very good question: What does it mean when a writer "presents" their book?

We answered as fairly as we could, pointing out that most authors briefly introduce their book, read from it, answer questions about it and then sign it. There are abberations of course. There are the writers who refuse to sign, or won't read the work they've written, or will read and sign but can't be bothered with discussion. And who are we to judge, as they are all artists and we're lucky to have their books to read at all, right? If they want to get up there and only sign or only read or only answer questions, fine. Right? Right. Until we went to Cesar Millan's signing last night and lost our cool.

We've never quite understood why someone would get their book signed in the first place. What does it really matter if the book is signed or not? Aren't the contents of the books more important? Whenever we attend author book "presentations", we rarely stand in line at the end to get our book signed. We listen with rapt attention as the writer talks, reads, and answers questions. Then we skip out.

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We expected Cesar Millan's "presentation" of his new book Be the Pack Leader to be no different. We arrived at the Borders in Pasadena early last night, ready to hear Cesar talk about dogs and training and how to be pack leader. Instead, we were steered over to a table that was handing out wristbands. Wristbands! If you bought the book, you got a wristband. Our book was at home. We didn't want it signed. We told the Borders wristband girl: "Oh, we don't care if he signs our book, we just want to hear him talk and answer questions." The Borders girl laughed. Rolled her eyes. "Well, um, he doesn't talk. He just signs. If you want to see him, you need a book to get signed."

What? Who would wait in line just to have it signed? Um, apparently everyone but us.

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Instead of waiting in line to get our book signed, we decided to wait next to the line to see Cesar sign everyone else's book. Maybe he'll bring Daddy, we thought, that big, yummy, hunk of a pit bull would be worth any wait to see. So tough on the outside, so sweet in reality - the perfect defiance of pit bull stereotypes. Fine, we thought, we'll do it for Daddy.

We trudged upstairs and saw the line wrapping around the store (also, terribly placed in front of the entire literature section so non-Cesar Millan-groupie shoppers couldn't even shop for other books!) with people reading the book they had just purchased to have signed. At 6:15pm, a full 45 minutes before Cesar was going to appear, the line was full of intense people who wanted that Cesar Millan signature no matter what. It was all so intense, the wait-time doubling with every new group that got in line, we decided to bail. Daddy or no Daddy.

All the way home we argued about it - to sign or not to sign? Would you wait in line just for a signature on a book you haven't even read? Or do you like to hear the author talk about the book instead? Are we nuts about this signing thing...or do you agree?

Photo of Cesar and Daddy at a reading last year by puck90 via Flickr

Photo of line at last night's Borders reading by Callie Miller for LAist