Company: Usborne Books & More
Price: $75 or $125 (plus tax) for starter kit
Scam or Not: Not a Scam
Overall Ranking: 5/10
An Introduction to Usborne Books
As the name suggests, Usborne Books is a company that sells books. The full name is actually Usborne Books & More, which is why there are various Usborne Books & More reviews out there as well.
The company sells a wide range of books, which tend to be targeted at children.
They range from the simple to the complex, with some that are pretty unusual and others that are more common.
Some of the books are specifically produced by Usborne itself and branded as such. But, many others aren’t, which means they are often sold by other companies as well.
Although some of the books are a little controversial, there are a lot of positive Usborne Books reviews as well, along with members that are truly passionate about their products.
Which begs the question, is the company a good way to earn money?
Being an Usborne Books Consultant
Usborne Books follows a model that is used time and time again. Essentially, members act as consultants for the company, promoting the books and earning commissions from sales.
There are two sides to this.
The first is the simplest, just selling the products. So, you make a commission from each individual sale.
The other side is more complex. Here, you make some money by recruiting others. Your income is then connected to their performance and your team (or downline) as a whole, along with the sales that you make.
Companies that use these two approaches are known as MLMs or sometimes direct marketing companies. There is no shortage of these out there, including many in the health and nutrition field (like Live Vantage) or in jewelry (like Touchstone Crystal or Paparazzi Jewelry), along with other more obscure ones, like Damsel in Defense.
But, despite their similarities, there are also major differences between MLMs and some are better than others.
For example, Paparazzi Jewelry is kind of cool because the pieces are just $5. However, the catch is that you have to buy them and then sell them on, which means you need some cashflow.
To figure out where Usborne Books falls, we have to look at the product selection and the Usborne books compensation plan.
The Product Selection
Honestly, I like the product selection at Usborne Books. They have a pretty good range, including books that are fairly unusual. Many of their books also get great reviews on Amazon and similar sites.
So, there is definitely demand, especially for the books that are a little unusual.
At the same time, the prices for the books are fairly reasonable.
I can certainly imagine people being willing to pay these prices, especially as they tend to be less than what you might expect in a bookstore. It’s also easy to see how people might get passionate about these books and even impulse buy them.
In fact, one of the underlying ideas of the company is that you promote the books via parties, so in a group-based setting. By doing so, you give people the chance to see and interact with the books first hand.
This could easily promote sales, especially for the more unusual books in the mix.
There is also a large range, covering just about any topic area that you can imagine. In theory, this means that there would be some products for just about everybody.
Usborne Books Reviews
The products from Usborne Books are likely to be appealing to many people. But, various Usborne Books reviews do suggest that some of them are controversial as well.
In particular, many of the books are aimed at education, especially in terms of homeschooling. Indeed, the books are even used on some homeschool curriculums.
But, as is often the case, not everybody agrees with what they want their children to learn. This is actually particularly true for homeschooling, as many people who homeschool are often strongly religious or conservative. Additionally, the decision to homeschool is sometimes made to provide more control over what a child learns.
One area of debate within Usborne Books reviews is that some of the books teach evolution.
I’m not going to go into whether that is a good thing or not. But, it’s certainly clear that this may be a problem for some people. Likewise, some of the books include basic nude drawings, while others teach about various religions.
For example, the site Children are a Blessing highlighted this image from one of the books.
But, other Usborne Books reviews do enjoy the books and find them extremely relevant, like the review below for a book on puberty:
In many ways, the various Usborne Books reviews come down to personal preference, rather than issues with the company as a whole. With any collection of books, it’s likely that there will always be some people who are upset or offended.
Likewise, most of the books aren’t going to offend anybody at all.
But, that being said, if you’re trying to sell the books – you could easily lose customers by just offending them once. So, this area is a pretty major issue.
Additionally, many of these negative Usborne Books reviews come from the fact that people are buying the books blindly. While they may have access to some books at parties, customers typically won’t know what’s inside many books unless they actually buy them.
It’s easy to see how this could lead to controversy and upset customers.
The Usborne Compensation Plan
One difference that I’ve found between MLMs is that some are extremely open with their compensation plan, while others reveal almost nothing. Usborne Books falls into that latter category.
It always bothers me when companies do this, as distributors really should know what to expect before they sign up. Nevertheless, there is some information out there.
For one thing, the company estimates that you people earn around $75 to $100 per show, with individual shows earning between $300 and $400.
I can tell you right now that is an unrealistic number.
Do you think you could sell $300 to $400 of product at one time? You might in your first show but I doubt you would after that. In fact, many distributors would find that they only make a few sales per show.
I’m not just guessing either. I’ve actually seen this happen for shows at Pampered Chef.
People do tend to be fairly hesitant about spending their money at the best of times and even more so when they feel like they’re being pressured into it.
The compensation plan for the company does seem to be pretty similar to other MLMs. So, you earn a commission on sales (in this case, 25% for standard sales). But, the real income potential comes from your team.
This means that you can earn commissions and bonuses based on the performance of your team.
The company isn’t clear on the precise requirements or the various bonuses. However, the MLM model means that the process tends to get complicated rather quickly.
Typically, you will be assigned a rank in the company and that determines the commissions you receive and your bonuses. To do better, you have to progress up from one rank to the next and most of the income potential comes from the highest ranks.
The only way of getting to those high ranks is to have a team that performs very well.
Realistically, this is where the whole thing comes crumbling down.
It’s hard enough to make consistent sales yourself but recruiting and ensuring that your recruits are successful… that’s a whole different story.
Even if you do actually manage to recruit people, there is little that you can do to ensure your team actually performs well. At the end of the day, that all comes down to their willingness and ability to succeed.
I don’t know about you but to me, that feels like a horrible way to try and run a business, especially when you’re supposed to be working for yourself.
Other Options for Making Money
I will note that there is one advantage with Usborne Books over most other MLMs. This is that the company offers a number of different ways for you to make money.
It’s easy to see how there could be some potential here, especially if you managed to get schools passionate about the books. However, you probably won’t be the only Usborne consultant in an area, so the potential may not be as high as it seems.
I do also like the fact that you can sell via a website.
However, be aware that the website will be a duplicate of what other members get, so you can’t rank for it.
Additionally, it’s possible to buy many of the books online from places like Amazon and eBay – and they are often considerably cheaper there. So, you may struggle with website sales too.
Is Usborne Books a Pyramid Scheme?
When talking about the Usborne compensation plan, some people feel like the company is a pyramid scheme. For the most part, that isn’t true.
Technically speaking, there is a significant distinction between MLMs and pyramid schemes. In particular, a pyramid scheme focuses entirely on recruiting. Essentially, if you joined a pyramid scheme, you end up paying for the chance to earn money and that’s it.
As a system, pyramid schemes are illegal and they are also highly unsustainable. Sooner or later, the pool of potential people to recruit dries up. In practice, only those who joined the scheme early on make money. Everybody else gets ripped off.
The biggest difference with the MLM model is the products.
For one thing, you can actually make money just selling the products, without ever getting involved in the recruiting. Many companies, including Usborne Books, also place greater focus on their products than on recruiting in their marketing.
The end result is that technically and legally Usborne Books isn’t considered a pyramid scheme.
After all, you can make money just selling the products. You could even make a decent amount of you sold enough. Nevertheless, there is a strong focus on recruitment and many of the bonuses are tied into that.
As such, the distinction between MLM and pyramid scheme is somewhat blurred and is being heavily debated.
For example, Herbalife is an extremely large health and nutrition company that uses a MLM model. The company has been under considerable scrutiny, which has included an FTC investigation.
Indeed, the findings of that case noted that Herbalife was unfair or deceptive in its approach and that it had a compensation plan that would harm members.
The ruling didn’t go as far as to call Herbalife a pyramid scheme.
But, the restrictions imposed on the company are fairly tough, which might kill its potential to make money.
The case is also an indication of increased scrutiny from the FTC and courts about MLMs and certainly suggests that the model is nowhere near as sound as companies imply.
Now, in fairness, the Usborne books compensation plan isn’t the same as Herbalife’s and the company doesn’t make excessive claims about potential income. Still, the outcomes of the case are relevant.
If nothing else, Usborne Books may not be a pyramid scheme but the MLM model isn’t as good as it looks either and income potential under the program is likely to be lower than most assume.
My Personal Usborne Books Review
Beyond the products themselves and the Usborne Books compensation plan, there are also a few other things to consider about the chance of success for Usborne Books.
The Books Are Easy to Buy
Some of the books sold through Usborne are pretty cool and the company does produce some of its own unique products. But, many of the books from Usborne are available elsewhere, including some of their branded ones.
For example, the image below is some options from Barnes & Noble’s website and there are lots of other examples.
Officially, Usborne ended a relationship with Amazon a few years back but that doesn’t stop a lot of Usborne books from showing up on Amazon as well.
This is great if you want to buy the books but it’s bad news for consultants.
After all, it would be pretty hard to sell books when people can buy them in many other places. Plus, buying on Amazon and some other sites may even be cheaper than the prices that consultants offer.
The Books Aren’t That Unusual Anyway
Yes, many of the items from Usborne books are pretty popular and some do really well in terms of reviews. But, there’s no shortage of children’s books on the market.
In most cases, you’ll find that other companies produce similar books, often at competitive prices.
Every MLM involves some degree of competition. You have to compete against other distributors, along with other companies that sell similar products.
As I mentioned before, this is particularly significant with Usborne Books, as the books are sold in a lot of different places, plus, there is no shortage of other books out there.
You’re also competing against other options.
In particular, many people don’t buy new books frequently anyway – especially not children’s books which may only get read a few times. Instead, they may buy second-hand books or get many books out of the library instead of buying them.
Additionally, it’s pretty common for friends to share books with one another, so the same books will get passed around a social group.
All of these areas will make it that much harder to sell the products.
For that matter, you may find that your customers do share books with one another, which will decrease your sales potential.
There are More Consultants than You Think
Speaking of competition, companies like Usborne Books often market themselves as having fewer consultants than they actually do. For example, one Usborne Books reviewer noted that members claim there are only ’20,000 active consultants’, making now a great time to get involved.
The claim is misleading though, as the term active consultants only refers to those making a certain amount of sales.
So, it doesn’t count all of those who are trying and failing to make money.
Realistically, you’ll find that the competition is much higher than the company implies and the chance for success is much lower.
The Opportunity Isn’t Unique
The company makes this claim about being different:
Here’s the thing though, the compensation plan varies somewhat from one direct sales company to another. But, at the end of the day, they all do pretty much the same thing. Usborne Books is no different.
In fact, that claim they make isn’t even realistic.
Would you call books a ‘need’? If you did, would you say they are as important as clothing and food?
The simple answer is, probably not.
As I mentioned before, there are lots of other ways to get books anyway – far more than for the products that most other MLMs sell. I mean, if you go to a garage sale or a second-hand store, you can probably find decent enough books for 20 cents.
That doesn’t even count what you find at a library.
It is cool that Usborne Books sells children’s books and many people are passionate about them. But, that doesn’t mean that the model is one that will lead to income.
Think About Your Audience
If you are seriously interested in Usborne Books, then I suggest taking the time to think about your audience. Realistically, some people are more likely to make purchases than others.
For one thing, you need an audience that has enough disposable income to buy new books for their children. For that matter, they need to have children to begin with.
At the same time, you probably want people who aren’t going to be easily offended or too critical of material. This aspect is really important because if the books offend even one person, it could have dramatic effects on your future sales.
In particular, word of mouth works both ways. So, it can be a great way to promote your business – and you will get more sales if people are passionate. But, if your customers have a bad experience and tell their friends, the consequences could be significant.
Finally, you probably want an audience that doesn’t tend to shop online and enjoys the party approach that this type of company offers.
If you know people that fall in these general areas, then your chance at making money through Usborne Books will be higher. Personally, I wouldn’t suggest even trying the company unless your audience meets most of those criteria.
Otherwise, you’ll end up basically trying to brute force sales. Doing so is ineffective and can easily cause you to lose friends.
The one thing that I like about Usborne Books is the products. I know some of them are controversial and they aren’t that unique but they are still appealing. It’s also easy to see how you could get customers passionate about the brand and make sales that way.
Now, if you’re going to get involved in a MLM, you have a much better chance with a good product selection. If you have the right audience, Usborne Books may well be an option.
Nevertheless, you’re still stuck following the MLM model.
That model is okay if you want to make a little bit of money selling the products. However, if you’re looking for a decent income, it starts to fall apart. To get that income, you need to get involved in recruiting and you need to make your sales high too.
In practice, this is extremely difficult.
Realistically, it doesn’t even matter how good the opportunity is. Most people aren’t going to want to invest their time and money into selling books from their home.
And, even if you do recruit people, most probably won’t be effective, which further decreases your chance for income.
So, why bother?
Making money through Usborne Books is complex and involves pressuring your friends and family.
If you’re not careful, you could alienate them in the process.
Instead, there are other ways to make money, ways that are more convenient and much less stressful. The method that I promote is one called affiliate marketing.
The biggest appeal of affiliate marketing is that the process is entry-level. So, you don’t need previous experience or even a product of your own. Instead, you can get going with what you have.
The most basic explanation of the process is that you’re building a website of your own and promoting products from other companies through it.
Being successful in that area is actually much easier than it sounds and the main thing that you need is simply good training. There are many places to go for that but one of the best options is a site called Wealthy Affiliate.
Wealthy Affiliate is great for the training it offers alone. But, what really makes it powerful is the community support. That support can give you the edge you need to truly be successful.
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