My first post. I've been lurking here for a while, but just signed up.
I'm learning about book design with a specific goal in mind -- namely, laying out my own novel to publish with a POD firm (BookSurge). I want the design to look modern -- not experimental or edgy, mind you, but nevertheless fully up-to-date. I'm using Whitman for the text. I've chosen Scala Sans for the dust jacket, and may also use it for the running headers and chapter titles. When I'm happy with my design, I'll post a couple of pages over in the critique section.
First, I need to decide whether to go with full justification or ragged right. I set the first chapter both ways and printed out the pages. The more I looked at them, the more attractive and readable the RR version came to seem. I'd all but decided to go in that direction.
Last night I had some time to kill, and I browsed a few dozen books at Barnes & Noble, and I was a little bit surprised to find very few books set that way. Out of the I-don't-know-how-many I looked at, I found precisely four set ragged right, all by the same author, Ali Smith. The latest of her books, a hardcover short story collection, didn't seem particularly well-designed. Very undistinguished typeface at a very large size, bland cover. The whole thing might just as well have been produced with Word.
I really genuinely prefer the look of the text set RR, but since FJ is clearly so overwhelmingly more common, would it look like an amateurish mistake? The design should fit the text and so on, but is full justification such an unwavering element in the design of novels that I daren't buck tradition?