- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 18, 2003

More than 90 percent of parents say the new Harry Potter book chronicling the adventures of the young magician and his friends is too expensive, according to a recent survey.

The fifth book in author J.K. Rowling’s successful series, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” has a list price of $30. The 896-page book is aimed at 9- to 12-year-olds.

“I would say 30 bucks is high for a kids book,” said Patrick Daley, whose son has read the first two in the series. “Although my wife reads them too — she steals them from the kids.”

Like 4 percent of respondents in the survey by Coolsavings Inc., the Daley family often shares one copy of the books among the grandparents, parents and children.

Many retailers are discounting the book and local libraries are stocking hundreds of copies.

Both Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble have the book for pre-order online at $17.99, 40 percent off the retail price. Books-A-Million’s Web site has the lowest price, offering “Phoenix” at 46 percent off with the store’s discount club card.

Thirteen-year-old Steven Anderson of Indianapolis, who reserved his copy of “Phoenix” at Toys R Us with a $5 down payment, said the price is comparable with those of other hardcover editions he owns, such as the $50 Lord of the Rings trilogy.

“I thought the price was OK for something that was 900 pages,” he said. The book costs 3.5 cents per page.

Children’s hardcover classics such as “Black Beauty” typically sell for $15 to $20.

Other popular hardcover titles for 9- to 12-year-olds include the nine books in the Lemony Snicket series ($11 each, or 3.5 cents per page) and the Artemis Fowl series ($16.95, or 5 cents per page).

Steven also said the Harry Potter books seemed to be made of high-quality materials, and even with his “special touch” they have held together nicely through several readings apiece.

For collectors, the $60 deluxe edition is available featuring a cloth cover, foil-stamped title on the spine and a removable jacket with original artwork.

The District’s 27 public libraries have purchased 218 copies, with the majority going to the young-adult sections because of the more mature subject matter in “Phoenix” than in previous series entries.

Fairfax County’s 21 branches already have more than 1,200 people on a waiting list for the county’s 493 print editions and 53 audiobook editions. Montgomery County’s 21 public libraries have more than 450 people on the waiting list for more than 400 copies.

The Harry Potter book publisher, Scholastic, is printing an unprecedented 8.5 million copies in the United States alone — and that’s just the first printing.

Another 575,000 audiobooks will be available Saturday as well.

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