Originally Posted by DaleDe
While printed books use full justification all the eBook devices do not do a very good job with real justification. They simply insert additional space characters between the words. A sometimes they don't even to a good job of picking the places to insert the spaces resulting in a visual river running down the page. In addition the lack of support for proper hyphenation causes increased problems with full justification on the short lines used on most readers.
A good printed book actually increases the space between characters in the word and use variable width spacing to accomplish the professional look. Short lines of text typically don't do well with full justification which is why some newspapers have abandoned it.
Of the electronic formats for books we read PDF is the only format that will generally do a good job of full justification. There is a lot of improvement needed in eBook software before it becomes my preferred format. This is why left justification is useful, currently, for eBook readers and should be offered as an option.
yes, full justification must really be done by hand line by line to acheive good results, adjusting tracking and kerning. automatic justification on reflowable text rarely gives good results, and they can be particularly egregious when text is displayed in short lines / large font size.
personally i avoid fully-justified reflowable text whenever possible and i have a strong preference for left aligned, ragged right ebooks. even for text that will be printed (not reflowable) it should be used with moderation and not under every circumstance. the only format which can maintain hand-adjusted tracking and kerning (done in a layout application like InDesign or Quark XPress) would be pdf, and as we know "pdf is not an ebook format"... i also hope that this will be left a user option.
by the way, the recent Penguin paper editions of Wodehouse's books are printed "ragged right". it's a bit surprising at first glance but i quickly got used to it. you can see this here
if you click on "look inside".