Have you heard of this thing called Usborne Books & More? If you have kiddos, chances are you’ve come across the name at least once in the last few years. If you don’t have kids, you might not know what I’m talking about (I hadn’t a clue until I had Lincoln). Let me explain. Because you’re going to want to join up in the month of February.
Usborne Books & More is the U.S. version of the company Usborne Books, a publishing company that utilizes the MLM (multi-level marketing) method for sales. If you’re not sure what an MLM is, think Mary Kay, Rodan & Fields, Young Living/Doterra, Pampered Chef, etc. You know how these works. Ordinary every day people are the sellers, and they make commission on sales. It’s a great way to make some extra income, especially if you’re a stay-at-home mom.
That said, I’m actually not a huge fan of most MLMs.
(Please don’t come toilet paper my house.)
It’s not the marketing strategy that gets me. I’m actually fully on board with the business model. The problem I have with most MLMs is that I don’t really need their products. I like my fancy expensive kitchen knives that I already own (I married into a really great set of knives). I don’t need special air fresheners; if I want my house to smell good I can buy those plug-ins at Target, and in all honestly I prefer essential oils anyway. And sorry, I’m just not much of a makeup person, so expensive foundation and lipstick don’t really turn my head..
When I get approached about a new company’s new product my general go-to is a “Wow, that’s exciting that you love it so much, but it’s really not something I want to spend my money on. Thanks anyway!”
Now, full disclosure, I do sell Young Living products. But I actually do love them and use them myself. I don’t sell anywhere near an amount to consider it a supplemental income (not by a loooooooong shot), but I don’t really try to make it a business. If it offsets the cost of my personal oil purchases, I consider it a good deal.
Okay, so now that you know my feelings about MLM’s, let’s talk Usborne. Because along with Young Living, Usborne is the only other MLM I’ve ever considered joining. (And, yes, I did end up signing up in October.) Here’s why:
Reasons to Join Usborne Books & More
1) Everyone buys books.
If you’re a parent, you’re already buying books for your kids. So Usborne isn’t trying to shlep a product that most people aren’t going to use. All kids needs books. And even if you’re not a parent, chances are there’s at least a couple of nieces/nephews/friends’ children that you occasionally buy books for. This was the main reason I decided to go for a membership, after some hemming and hawing for a couple of months. If I’m already buying books frequently, I may as well get a discount and some money back from it.
Because this kid here? He loves him some books.
2) Usborne’s books are flipping awesome.
No, seriously. Long before I’d ever heard the name Usborne, I’d been unknowingly bringing one of their collections home from the library for months. When Lincoln was still small he gravitated to touchy feely books mostly, and we found the “That’s Not My…” series at our local library. “That’s Not My Duck” and “That’s Not My Goat” and a few others came home with us and we just kept rechecking them out, week after week, because he loved them so much. It wasn’t until months later when someone first told me about their new Usborne membership that I looked through the catalog and put two and two together. Once I knew Usborne was the maker of our fave baby books, I decided to drop in on a party a co-worker was hosting to check out some more. (You want to see your book-loving toddler go nuts? Take him/her to an Usborne book party.) For Lincoln, every book was love at first sight.
Some of Usbornes’s most popular titles/series: The Look Inside series (lift-the-flap books that toddlers go nuts over), Busy Books that come with pages of tracks and a wind up toy, Shine a Light books (you shine a flashlight at the page to reveal hidden pictures), Animally, I’m a Dirty Dinosaur, A Tale of Two Beasts, and (Lincoln’s current favorite) Nibbles the Book Monster. (He chews his way through fairy tale books and wreaks havoc along the way!)
Lincoln loves Nibbles. He entertains himself for a long time looking for all the places Nibble has chewed through and searching for him on pages with lots of imagery. He also likes to pretend to “let him out” of his cage at the beginning of the book.
3) If you’re going to be buying books anyway, why pay full price? (Or pay at all…)
I think some people believe that Usborne’s books are more expensive than the ones you can pick up at your local Barnes & Noble. Um, have you seen the prices of children’s books these days? I am constantly walking through the book section of stores and stopping myself from buying all the books because, holy cow, some of them run upwards of $15 a book! Now I know if you’re wanting a really cool interactive book, they’re going to cost more, I get that. Printing costs and set up fees and special materials yada yada. All I’m saying is that Usborne’s books aren’t any more expensive than the ones you see on weekly Target trips. But. As a member you pay less than retail to begin with, and when others buy books through you, you also get a certain amount in free books. Free books!
4) Free books
Yes. Free! Depending on sales at a “party” (parties can be in actual real life, on Facebook or other social media, or an open-ended call to order books up to a certain date), the seller earns free books of their choosing. This is actually how I bolstered Lincoln’s collection quite a bit. I ended up with about $80 to use to select books, plus an extra $50 that I could use to purchase books at half price. Remember, I’m not all that salesy; if I can get my membership to cover the cost of building Lincoln’s personal library, I consider it a win. (Also, there is no requirement by Usborne to do any parties at all. All selling is on an “if you want to” basis.)
One of my favorite free books is the numbers wipe clean book that Lincoln has in the picture above. He’s big on writing with a real pen and he’ll sit in our laps when we’re working and doodle. These wipe clean books are amazing- they really do wipe perfectly clean easily. For now, L just likes to scribble on the pages, circling things he likes as he sees them, but soon he’ll start figuring out how to trace the numbers. We also have the ABCs wipe clean book saved for a future present for him.
5) The Usborne membership kit is totally worth the cost.
Here’s where a lot of people falter before jumping on board with an MLM. There’s always a big upfront cost to get a starter “kit” and access to membership. Usborne is no exception. However, they very nicely have two different kits that can be purchased at two different price points, and both come with full memberships.
The kits are AWESOME. Think of it as a big sampling of Usborne’s best books. Yes, you’re paying a bit upfront, but you’re not getting nothing out of it. It honestly didn’t take me long to pull the trigger and sign up, because I figured even if I didn’t ever do anything with my Usborne membership, I still scored a ton of great books for cheaper than I would have spent normally. Let me repeat that: Even if you don’t do anything with Usborne ever again, you’re still going to make out ahead since you now have a pretty nice collection of books that are yours.
Like I said, Usborne has two main kits. We’ll call them the Big Kit and the Little Kit. The Big Kit contains 20 books (there’s no definitive list of which books, but they’re always samples of the most popular series–mine came with so many great books!) and runs $125. The Little Kit is only $75 and has 10 books. Along with the books, you also get some promotional materials and access to the store website, so if you plan to attempt selling you’re ready to go. (If you really want an idea of what books will come in your kit ahead of time, I’ve found that a lot of people do live videos of their box reveal and upload them to Youtube, so if you look for most recent videos, you can get a pretty good idea of what a kit would contain.
Special Update: For the month of February 2018, there is a special bonus kit– only $40 to get a membership and it comes with 7 books (including Nibbles!). This is a GREAT time to sign up!
I’m hoping this little post helps anyone who’s been on the fence about joining, like I was for awhile. It really is something I have no regrets doing, even if I’m not super committed to earning money through it. Like I said, I’m just happy to provide my son with quality books while getting the costs covered. It’s a win-win for all of us. 🙂
For the record: I happen to be on an awesome Usborne team called Team Literacy League. There’s a huge Facebook group where people can ask questions and discuss the business side of the Usborne books, and a whole website full of resources and training tips. If you think getting a kit and starting a membership is in your future, make sure you sign up through someone who is going to have all the resources you’ll need to be successful! If you want to be part of Team Literacy League, you can join through me at the Usborne site here.
Also, in case you’re wondering, here’s the look you get when you tell your toddler it’s time to stop reading and go do quiet time: