Shimura Takako's Wandering Son has been acclaimed by critics all over the blogosphere (myself included), but any publisher is taking a risk on a 200-page hardcover book that sells for $20, and when it's part of a 12-volume series ... well, there is a lot to be said for giving loyal readers a break.
It's hard to know whether Fantagraphics is feeling nervous or generous, but the publisher is offering a discount to readers who pay up front: A subscription to the next three volumes, vols. 4-6, for $50.38, a 20 percent discount from the list price of $62.97 — plus free domestic shipping and discounted overseas shipping.
This seems like a mutually beneficial deal: Fanta gets its money up front for volumes that will be published in December 2012, June 2013 and December 2013, respectively, and readers get a good price. This sort of pay-now-read-later arrangement is unusual for manga, and for graphic novels in general. If this works, it could set a precedent for high-end graphic novels — I don't see anyone paying up front for the next 20 volumes of Naruto, but when you think about it, it's not that different from traditional publishers like Digital getting pre-orders through Kickstarter.