Is Usborne Books a pyramid scheme? No, it’s not. However, people are going to say that it is, and I’m going to let you know why in this article.
Usborne Books & More is a book company focused on kids’ books with a direct sales side where independent consultants sign up with the company and sell the books for a commission.
They can also build a team and earn commissions on their team’s sales. So, yes, Usborne Books is a multi-level marketing (MLM) company.
Let me show you what this company is all about and whether or not it’s worth it to plunk down $75 (or $125) to get started.
What is Usborne Books?
Usborne Books & More was started in 1989 by British book publisher Peter Usborne as a spin off of his company Usborne Publishing.
Usborne has hundreds of books available for babies and toddlers up to teens. They have a wide variety of books and educational materials, including sticker books, nonfiction books, flashcards, games, puzzles, Spanish books and so much more.
From my research, it seems that people are very happy with the quality of the books. However, does that mean it’s worth it to join the Usborne Books & More business opportunity?
Let’s take a closer look.
How Does Usborne Books Work?
Usborne has a direct selling portion of its publishing company, which is what we’re talking about here. This means independent consultants go out and sell the books for a commission.
Because independent consultants can also build a team and earn commissions on their team’s sales, this makes Usborne Books & More an MLM. You can get paid on multiple levels.
Here’s a video about FAQs that people generally have about selling with Usborne Books & More.
Here are the key points from the video:
- There are no monthly minimum requirements and no monthly or yearly fees.
- You get a 25% commission on books that you buy yourself or sell to others.
- If you’re promoted to Team Leader, you get an additional 8.5% on your sales and your team’s sales.
- You don’t need to carry inventory because customer can order directly from your website.
- You get free double book rewards in the first 90 days.
- You get your business website free for 6 months.
What’s good here is that there aren’t any monthly minimum requirements. That’s where a lot of people in MLMs get into trouble because when you have monthly minimums you sometimes end up making those purchases yourself, getting you deeper and deeper into debt.
I will mention something about this a little later because there could still be a bit of an issue with this…
How Much Does It Cost to Join Usborne Books and More?
To get started with Usborne Books & More, you will need to purchase a starter kit. There are two to choose from:
1. New Consultatnt Mini Kit 1: $75
This comes with two featured titles, plus another 8 books. You also get business supplies and your website free for 6 months.
2. New Consultant Kit: $125
This comes with three featured titles, plus 17 more books. Like with the mini kit, you also get business supplies and your website is free for 6 months.
After your first 6 free months is up for your website, it’s $8 / month.
It looks like most consultants use home parties mostly as a way to sell the books. When doing a home party, you have to think about additional costs (these are optional, but nice to have):
- Business cards
- Book inventory (if you want to have some to sell immediately)
If you find someone to host a party for you, the food and drink costs will likely go to that person. You can also do online parties, which will lower these additional costs.
How Much Money Can You Make with Usborne Books & More?
As an Usborne Books consultant, you earn 25% commission on sales. These are sales to other people, or on the products that you order.
You get an additional 4% commissions when you make $1000 or more sales in a month with a home party, internet party and direct sales.
If you get promoted to Team Leader, you get an 8.5% monthly override on your own sales, plus an 8.5% override on your Central Group’s sales. As your team grows, you can earn monthly override commissions on each level of your downline:
- Level 1 = 5.5%
- Level 2 = 4%
- Level 3 = 1%
Of course, this is what you CAN make. What do consultants actually make? It’s hard to tell because I couldn’t find an income disclosure.
This is a stat that’s posted in a report on the FTC’s website. Source. This report says that gambling is a better bet than being in an MLM.
Usborne Books Positive Reviews
I have seen quite a few positive reviews for the Usborne Books and from consultants who are enjoying selling the books. Most of the positive reviews say that the books are very high quality and that their kids love them.
Consultants trying to sell the books are going to be positive about the experience, of course. They want you to join! That’s understandable. The happy consultants mention that they get plenty of training, they enjoy working with the company and they are happy to be a part of the “literacy movement.”
Usborne Books Complaints
I found plenty of complaints for Usborne Books too. A lot of the complaints had to do with shipping, which was a problem a couple of years ago. Most people now say their books arrive in about a week.
Some people complained that they’re overpaying for the books. For instance, a woman said she paid $24 for 2 sets of books that were marked as $7.99 each.
Here’s a woman who became a consultant and is not happy with the process. She called Usborne Books a scam and a pyramid scheme in her full complaint because she wasn’t making any money with them. However, just because you’re not making money doesn’t mean it’s a scam.
We’ll try to determine if it’s a scam or a pyramid scheme a little later. The rest of her complaint is about the selling process and I thought it was good to note.
You can take a look at the reviews for yourself here. You can see that 28% of the reviews are 5 stars and 66% are one star. That can be telling, but people do tend to complain more than they praise online.
Is Usborne Books a Pyramid Scheme or a Scam?
Is Usborne Books a pyramid scheme? No, it’s technically not because there is emphasis on selling the books retail to customers. It becomes closer to a pyramid scheme when the emphasis is on recruiting people.
Most MLMs, in my opinion, are borderline pyramid schemes because you can make more money by recruiting people than by selling the product.
Is Usborne Books a scam? Again, it’s not. It’s just your classic MLM. Some people hate MLMs so much that they will call them scams and pyramid schemes no matter what. I kind of understand why.
With MLMs, you’re almost always destined to fail and lose money. It’s just how they’re set up. And honestly, I don’t think Usborne Books is any different.
- Relatively low start up cost
- No monthly minimum requirement
- High quality books
- 6 months free website hosting
- Overpriced books that can be found elsewhere for less
- Finding people to host parties will prove to be difficult
- Almost no one makes money in an MLM
- There’s not a high demand because you can easily buy books in many stores
As I mentioned above, there are no minimum monthly purchases with Usborne Books & More. However, I did read a consultant mention that her team said it’s best to have a bunch of books in your inventory.
This is likely so that customers can look through the books, and you can also sell those ones right away without the customer having to wait for shipping.
That is a better customer experience, but if you’re going to start stocking up on inventory, then you’re going to start investing more and more money into this. This is where you can get into trouble. Will you be able to sell every book you stock up on?
I also read a note from someone in a Facebook group that the only real way to make money as an Usborne consultant is by getting school and library contracts.
But you can only do that if you’re approved by the company as they have trained “Education Consultants” to sell those contracts.
Usborne Books & More Alternative
Do you know who has incredible books at a great price? Well, OK. The Library is probably the best place to go. But I was really thinking of Amazon.
If you like the idea of selling books and being a part of the literacy movement, but you don’t like the idea of being in an MLM, I have an alternative for you.
It’s called affiliate marketing. There are just four main steps to affiliate marketing:
Through affiliate marketing, you can promote products usually either through a website and / or a YouTube channel and you can earn a commission every time someone purchases from you.
For instance, Amazon has an affiliate program that you can easily sign up for. Once approved, you will be able to add a special link to your website posts that is specifically tied to you. When someone clicks on that links and buys, you earn a commission!
The great thing about affiliate marketing is you’re not just limited to books. If you want to gear your website towards items for kids for instance, you could also promote toys, games, electronics, desks, bedroom furniture, backpacks, lunchboxes…the sky’s the limit.
You’re also not limited to Amazon. There are thousands and thousands of affiliate programs available.
With affiliate marketing, there’s no recruiting, hard sales, inventory concerns, start up kits, uplines, downlines or parties of any kind.
Is Usborne Books a pyramid scheme? No, it’s not technically a pyramid scheme. Because there are some people who are completely against MLMs, they will call it a pyramid scheme anyway. As long as there are products to sell to customers, it’s not considered a pyramid scheme.
It gets a little murky when the focus is on recruiting members more than it is on selling the actual product. What’s interesting is that most MLMs so end up focusing on recruiting because that’s how you can make the most money.
Unfortunately, almost everyone loses money in an MLM. That’s just the way they’re set up. If you like the idea of working from home on your own time and promoting other people’s products for a commission (books or anything you want), then have a look at affiliate marketing as an alternative.