Is Usborne Books an MLM or Pyramid Scheme? [Review]

In a world where multi-level marketing (MLM) companies seem to have their fingers in various pies, it’s not uncommon to come across some unique ones. Usborne Books is one such company, offering children’s books through an MLM structure. But what exactly is Usborne Books, and can you really make money with it? Is it a legitimate business opportunity, or is it hiding behind the MLM curtain?

In this comprehensive review, we will delve deep into the world of Usborne Books, exploring its products, compensation plan, costs, success rates, pros, and cons, ultimately helping you decide whether it’s worth your time and effort.

What is Usborne Books?

Usborne Books, founded by Peter Usborne in 1973, stands out as an MLM company in the world of children’s literature. The company specializes in creating children’s books that are not only educational but also engaging, often incorporating games and puzzles to make learning fun. With an impressive range of titles, Usborne Books aims to foster a love for knowledge and reading among children.

Usborne Books MLM Review

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Who is the founder of Usborne Books?

Peter Usborne, the founder of Usborne Books, started his career in the world of children’s books in the early 1970s. He was motivated by the fact that he was going to become a parent soon, and he wanted to create something special for his child. In 1973, he founded his own company, which he called Usborne.

Peter Usborne

Peter Usborne’s vision was to create high-quality books for children that were both educational and enjoyable. He was a pioneer in the industry, and his illustrations for children were unmatched. He created a new line of publications that featured popular and contemporary subjects, which appealed to children and parents alike.

After nearly 50 years of parenting, Peter Usborne still considers being a parent the best experience of his life. Writing children’s books has played a major role in that, and he still looks forward to going to work every day.

Today, his duties as a publisher and parent have become increasingly intertwined as he runs Usborne Books with his daughter, Nicola, who is the Managing Director of the company. Peter’s son, Martin, has also followed in his father’s footsteps and started his own publishing company called Hoxton Mini Press.

The Usborne family is involved in philanthropy as well. Peter manages The Usborne Foundation with his children Martin and Nicola. This charity focuses on health and literacy issues, using design technology to create innovative solutions. The foundation has created a series of games called “Teach Your Monster To Read”, which are enjoyed by children all over the world.

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How to Make Money With Usborne Books?

Usborne Books offers two primary avenues for making money:

  1. Selling Products for Profit: As a consultant, you can purchase Usborne books at a discount and sell them at retail prices. Your profit comes from the difference between the discounted purchase price and the retail selling price.

  2. Recruiting Members: MLMs like Usborne Books often place a strong emphasis on recruitment. You can build a team of consultants under you and earn commissions based on their sales. The more successful your recruits are, the more you stand to earn.

In essence, your income potential with Usborne Books depends on your ability to sell books and your recruiting skills.

Is Usborne Books an MLM or Pyramid Scheme?

Usborne Books operates as a multi-level marketing (MLM) company rather than a pyramid scheme. The critical distinction lies in its revenue generation model. In MLMs like Usborne Books, consultants earn money both through product sales and recruiting new members. While recruitment plays a significant role, product sales to end consumers remain a substantial source of income.

Conversely, pyramid schemes rely primarily on recruitment with little to no emphasis on real product or service sales. In pyramid schemes, participants invest money upfront and earn returns primarily by enrolling others into the scheme, leading to a hierarchical, unsustainable structure where only a few at the top benefit while the majority lose money.

Usborne Books, while having elements of recruitment, still offers genuine educational products (children’s books) that are sold to customers. Consultants can earn commissions from selling these products directly to consumers. While recruitment can enhance earning potential, it is not the sole focus, differentiating Usborne Books from pyramid schemes.

However, it’s essential to exercise caution and thoroughly understand the compensation plan and the role of recruitment before getting involved with Usborne Books or any MLM, as the emphasis on recruitment can still raise concerns and impact overall profitability.

Read more: Pyramid Scheme vs. MLM

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Usborne Books Products Review

Usborne Books products

Usborne Books takes pride in offering high-quality, engaging children’s books. Here are some key points to consider regarding their products:

  • Educational Focus: Usborne Books aims to make learning enjoyable for children by integrating games, puzzles, and interactive elements into their books. This educational focus can appeal to parents and educators.

  • Diverse Range: The company offers a wide variety of titles, catering to different age groups and interests. This diversity can be a selling point for consultants.

  • Quality: Usborne Books is known for producing well-constructed and visually appealing books. This quality can enhance their marketability.

  • Price Point: While the books are of high quality, some customers may find the prices higher compared to similar titles available through other outlets. Price competitiveness can be a factor to consider.

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How Much Can You Make as an Usborne Consultant?


According to Usborne’s website, consultants usually earn around $100 per book party. But how does that translate to an hourly wage?

Well, consultants earn an average monthly income ranging from $150 to $4,100, with the midpoint usually around $550. And it typically takes a consultant 18 months to several years to reach this level.

Book parties are usually held at least five times a month, with an average of three hours spent at each party. So, in truth, Usborne consultants earn around $40+ per hour on average, and $17.50 per hour on the low end.

But if you’re interested in making even more money, consider becoming a team lead and recruiting consultants. According to one consultant, you can earn $600 per hour just by building your team.

As a team lead, you’ll earn a 25% commission on your sales and a sign-up bonus for each consultant you hire. Plus, in addition to your 25% commission, you’ll receive a 25% commission for your team’s sales.

Is Usborne’s Team Leader Position Worth It?

If you’re looking to be a team leader at Usborne, you should know that it comes with some incentives that could be appealing. However, before you jump into the opportunity, let’s break it down and see if it’s worth the effort.

Advancement Bonus and Personal Team Bonus

As a Team Leader at Usborne, you will receive an advancement bonus of $120, and if you can achieve it in 4 months, you will receive a double bonus of $240. On top of that, you’ll receive the “Personal Team Bonus,” which is a 5% commission every month on all of your team’s sales as long as certain requirements are met.

What Do You Need to Qualify for the Personal Team Bonus?

To qualify for the Personal Team Bonus, you must achieve a monthly sales quota of $120, your team’s total monthly sales should be $1,800, and there should be four active Organizers who make at least $120 in sales one out of every three months.

Income Potential

If you meet the above requirements, here’s what you can expect to earn:

  • $22.80 from one party of $120
  • $90 commission on team sales
  • $28.80 if 4 of your team members sell $120

So, you’ll gross about $238.80, which isn’t bad for working part-time at minimum wage, which would only require you to work 6 hours a week.

However, before you get too excited, remember that you must maintain your rank and be paid this for three rolling months.

MLMs and Profitability

It’s important to note that MLMs have a track record of being unprofitable for their participants. According to the FTC, nearly 99% of MLM participants usually lose money once their business expenses are deducted.

While the idea of making some extra cash as a Team Leader at Usborne may be tempting, it’s worth considering whether the effort and time involved are worth it.

MLMs have a questionable reputation when it comes to profitability, so it’s crucial to be realistic about your potential earnings.

How Much Does It Cost to Join Usborne Books MLM?

Joining Usborne Books involves an initial investment, and there are two consultant kits available:

  1. $65 Kit: This basic kit includes one year of consultant status, ten books, a six-month e-business package, and business supplies.

  2. $125 Kit: This premium kit includes the same components as the $65 kit but with additional books. The exact number of books may vary.

In addition to the kit cost, consultants may incur ongoing expenses, such as website fees and marketing materials. It’s essential to factor in these costs when considering whether to join Usborne Books.

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8 Reason Why I Don’t Recommend Usborne Books

1. Hosting Parties is Challenging

Let’s face it, hosting parties to sell Usborne Books can be tough. It’s not easy to convince someone to host more than one party, and even book fairs can be a struggle to set up. While other companies like Scholastic can make bank at these events, it’s not always the same for Usborne consultants.

2. Website Woes

Usborne’s website can be a headache for consultants. From technical glitches to inventory issues, it’s not always smooth sailing. Consultants get frustrated when customers want to order books that are out of stock or when deliveries get delayed. It’s a bummer when a company can’t keep track of their inventory and sales.

3. Not the Best Prices

Usborne’s CEO and owner of the U.S. division, Randall White, cut ties with because they sold the books at a lower price, which hurt independent consultants. While you can’t find everything on Amazon, you can often find the books at a lower price than what Usborne consultants offer. Other retailers like Barnes & Noble, Ebay, Half Price Books, and toy shops can also offer lower prices. As consumers, we tend to choose the lowest price whenever we can.

4. Being an Educational Consultant is Very Difficult

While it may be easy to sell books to your friends and family, selling to schools, daycare centers, and libraries is a different story. You’ll be up against competitors like Scholastic Books, which owns Usborne Books and More. This means you may see Usborne books at Scholastic book fair events. Convincing an educational facility to buy from you can be a challenge, and it requires jumping through many hoops.

5. Usborne Books is Not Competitive Enough

Children’s books are a competitive market, and it can be difficult for a product to stand out. Usborne Books is no exception. While their books are vibrant, colorful, and educational, the market for physical books is shrinking. Many publishers offer their books as apps or e-books, which are often cheaper than physical books. Usborne Books offers very few apps and no e-books, which can make them less attractive to consumers.

6. Earning Potential is Low Unless You Recruit and Build a Downline

While some Usborne consultants may make a decent income, it’s important to remember that the earning potential is low unless you recruit and build a downline. According to some estimates, a “good” month for Usborne consultants involves $400 in sales, one venue event, and one educational event. Home shows may yield less than $100. In saturated markets, some consultants sell their products at book fairs and other events for a lower price. Additionally, only 2% of people who join MLM companies are successful enough to receive a monthly paycheck.

7. You Must Purchase All Marketing Materials

As an Usborne consultant, you’re responsible for marketing the company’s products. This means you’ll need to purchase all of your own marketing materials, including flyers, catalogs, and other promotional items.

Unfortunately, some of these materials may be out of date, out of print, or out of stock. You’ll need to check the lists weekly to ensure you’re not promoting items that are no longer available. Plus, if you don’t adhere to Usborne’s branding guidelines, you could get in trouble.

8. Selling to Schools and Libraries Can Be Challenging

While selling Usborne books to schools and libraries can be profitable, it’s not always easy. For one thing, your commission on these sales will be lower than the usual 25%. You’ll also need to have at least six $160+ orders under your belt before you can open a library or school sales account.

Even if you can sell to schools and libraries, you’ll face competition from other vendors who can offer lower prices. To compete, you may need to lower your prices, which could cut into your commission.

Finally, Usborne corporate sells its books to schools without consulting with its consultants, which can be limiting. To make a consistent amount of money selling to schools and libraries, you’ll need to put in a lot of work.

Is Usborne Books a scam?

Usborne Books is a program that focuses on selling children’s book memberships and earning a 25% commission on sales. While the program offers some helpful information on how to make money online, it’s important to note that generating a substantial income on a 25% commission can be challenging. MLM businesses like Usborne Books tend to rely more on recruiting new members than actual sales.

So, is Usborne Books a scam? It’s tough to say definitively. While it may not be the easiest or most sustainable way to earn a decent income, some individuals may have success with the program.

However, if you’re looking for a legitimate and passive way to make money online, there are other options to consider. It’s important to thoroughly research any program before joining to ensure it aligns with your financial goals and values.

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