Today I found myself near a shop that is part of a local chain. I saw big signs on the walls saying "LOCAL! LOCAL! LOCAL! OMG LOCAL!" so I went in. I don't live near any bookstore other than The World's Worst Barnes & Noble (seriously, the ones in NYC were fine, but this one is awful--they sell books that look like they have been mauled by bears), but there are a lot of local bookstores and chains in my area.
In general, and today was no exception, I walk in thinking, "Local bookstore! I bet they're interested in local writers! I should scope this out for when I have more books out!" And I look around and...gosh. Around here the grocery stores and the gift shops are hugely into letting you know that a product is local--they put up signs indicating that something is from the area and all that. The local bookstores, are, to put it mildly, not. There may be a section of local travel guides and maps, but local writers...? No. "Buy local" to them just means "buy here."
But as I was wandering through the sci-fic/fantasy section (yeah, unless George R. R. Martin is local...), I did notice something interesting and potentially useful. One big complaint about book retailers is the tendency to sell books "spine out"--i.e. sitting on the bookshelf so that you can see only the spine. That's probably how you keep your books on the shelf, but writers would prefer it if a book is "face out"--i.e. sitting so that you can see the front cover. Face out makes the book more noticeable; spine out takes up less space on the shelf.
So, publishers of science fiction have done something very interesting--they've made the front and the spine look the same. The cover art repeats on the spine. (If the book is a small, fat mass-market book--which Trang, alas, cannot be, because CreateSpace won't allow it--then the spine is also about the same width as the front cover. Which means the spine art and the cover art are identical, but honestly, those proportions can't make the book easy to read.)
I have not given Trang a fancy spine. The full cover looks like this:
The only actual art is on the front.
I didn't think that mattered, but now I'm changing that opinion. If I want bookstores to stock the book, it needs to have more...shall we say, spinal flair, if only because other sci-fi books do. I don't think it should be hard--I can basically extend Titan over the spine (it can't go onto the back cover down there because that's where the bar code goes) and then put another, smaller portal higher up so that it overlaps the spine and the back cover.