By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated February 07, 2003 01:46 PM

Five months before its publication, “Harry Potter” is hitting the stratosphere — not only with sales figures for his fifth adventure, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” but also with the price tag.

Reuters reports that J.K. Rowling’s latest installment in the boy-wizard saga will become the highest-priced new children’s novel in history.

Scholastic Children’s Books, Rowling’s American publisher, announced Thursday that the 700-page “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” will carry a suggested retail price of $29.99, though, for instance, reportedly has plans to discount the price to $17.99.

“That’s definitely the highest price for a children’s novel we’ve ever seen,” Diane Mangan, director of children’s merchandising at the superstore chain Borders Group Inc., tells the news service

“That does seem to be the highest,” chimed in Carolyn Brown, of Barnes & Noble.

“Ouch,” was the general reaction of several parents when revealed the proposed cost to them.

Three years ago, the last book, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” carried a suggested price of $25.95. By comparison, last fall’s kid’s book, “The Thief Lord,” by Cornelia Funke, had a list price of $16.95.

A spokeswoman for Scholastic, Judy Corman, acknowledged the price may tick off some customers, but added, “Clearly, the cost has gone up for printing, paper, etc. We’re hoping people can afford it, but this is a very big book, a third larger than the last ‘Potter’ book, and we have to be realistic.”