Viz first began collecting multiple volumes of previously published manga series in 2008, with the release of “VIZBIG Editions” for Rurouni Kenshin, Dragon Ball, and later, Vagabond. All were boys’ manga, focusing on fighters, all were lengthy (ranging from 28 to 42 books in their series), and all were at least five years old (per their original American release dates).
The next year brought shojo to the program, with Fushigi Yugi, Hot Gimmick, and Inuyasha. Again, two of these were lengthy series (although the demented Hot Gimmick was only 12), and they were already successful in the U.S. The binding up of three books under one cover at a discount price ($18, except for Vagabond, which is $20) gave readers an appreciated jumping-on or catching-up point. Also beginning in 2009, Viz collected 12 volumes of the immensely long (over 50 books) series One Piece in four “Omnibus Editions” for the “East Blue Saga”, although those are now mostly out of print.
Now, Viz has announced another four titles meriting this reprint treatment, only the name has changed to “3-in-1 Editions” (which bears the virtue of being simple and direct). Coming next month are Naruto and Kekkaishi, with Bleach and Fullmetal Alchemist launching the first week of June. The press release pitch is “summer reading fun”, and refigured reprint editions are a good way to get back in the attention of customers and bookstores. Already, three volumes of each of the new series are planned, to cover through the end of the year.