PaperPie (Usborne) Book Party Hosting Review: Is It Worth It?
A brutally honest review of my experience hosting two PaperPie (Usborne Books and More) Facebook parties
Considering hosting a PaperPie (Usborne) book party but not sure if it’s worth it? Wondering if you’re actually going to get tons of free books from hosting? In my experience, it’s possible to get SOME free books, but it’s not nearly as easy or stress-free as it’s made out to be.
Check out this review of my experience hosting two Facebook PaperPie/Usborne parties with two different consultants, and see if hosting a party is right for you.
In this review, I’m going to discuss both Facebook parties I hosted: the good, the bad, and the ugly for each one. I will not be reviewing the Usborne/PaperPie consultants I worked with, but rather my experience the parties themselves, what I got out of them, if I would recommend them, and if I would do them again.
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**At the time of this writing, PaperPie had not yet rebranded to the new name and was still under the name of Usborne Books and More (UBAM). In this review, the names PaperPie, Usborne, and UBAM will be used interchangeably.
What is Usborne/ PaperPie?
Not sure what Usborne Books and More, now rebranded as PaperPie, is? PaperPie is a children’s book publisher that uses direct sales through independent consultants. Is it a multi-level marketing company (MLM)? Technically, yes.
However, the product offered (books) are truly high-quality. They are educational, entertaining, interactive, and many are beautifully illustrated. They are only published through Usborne, but they can be purchased through major retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Why do people host Usborne/PaperPie Facebook parties?
Free books!! Plus, these parties are basically the online mommy equivalent of a Scholastic Book Fair. If you loved those as a kid, you’ll probably really enjoy these parties as an adult. You get to browse through a big shiny catalog full of pretty books, and it’s a great excuse to BUY said pretty books.
Why did I decide to host Usborne Facebook parties?
For the reasons listed above. I attended a few in the past, and always enjoyed learning about new books. At these parties, the consultant always encourages the party guests to host their own party (such as with any MLM party). She (to my knowledge, they’re basically all women) always talks about how party hostesses earn a ton of free books.
Listen, I’m a sucker for free books.
If you know me, you know you could probably lure me into a strange van with free books. Even though I’m a librarian and have access to all the free books I want, I also love owning books. I love being able to come back to the same books my daughter loves to read over and over again. I love revisiting old favorites that we haven’t read together in months, and having tons of options on her book shelf to choose from.
So, the thought of getting a bunch of free books for my daughter sounded fantastic. Supposedly all I had to do was invite my friends to this thing and the Usborne consultant would take care of all the work for me. All I had to do was sit back, relax, and let the free books start rolling in.
Plus, according to Usborne (now PaperPie), the average Facebook party hostess receives about $75 worth in free books.
Sign. Me. Up.
Was that my experience? Keep reading to find out!
Expectations Going In
I went into the first party super excited and full of high hopes of lots of free books for my daughter. It was around the holidays, and I was excited to get some books I could give her as Christmas gifts. I invited the recommended 25 guests, plus any Facebook friend I could think of with small kids. Anyone with small kids could use some quality books, right?
I invited a few friends and family members who I had bought from in the past. Girl scout cookies, fundraisers, their own MLM parties (Nail Street, Pampered Chef, etc). I even invited people whose Usborne parties I went to and bought from! I was convinced that surely, all of these guests would buy a book or two.
That’s sort of an unspoken social agreement, right? You buy from them, they buy from you.
The party itself went just fine. I eagerly engaged with and commented on each of the posts, which is recommended for a successful party. Also, the more you engage, the more “raffle tickets” you earn toward a prize at the end. I was clearly the most invested person in this party, and thought for sure this would earn me lots of tickets.
My consultant did an okay job. I wasn’t blown away with the posts. At other Usborne parties I had attended, consultants posted a lot of images of individual books that were popular and seasonal, and the party guests seemed to find them pretty engaging.
My experience was more like: Here, watch this video and comment on your favorite book. The kinds of posts my consultant used required more work out of the party guests, and didn’t offer as much information on the books or showcase them the way I expected.
By the end of the party, I was eagerly awaiting the prize winner, and to know how much I had made in party sales and thus free books.
So, upon reaching out to my consultant, I learned how many people had bought from my party.
Drum roll PLEASE……………..
Two people bought books.
And those two people were my mom and my sister.
In order to qualify for free books, I evidently needed to sell $100 worth of books. So, I did not qualify for any kind of discount whatsoever.
I was crushed.
Listen, I don’t normally go out of my way to do things like host a Facebook party. I’m a total introvert. Doing things like inviting people to a Facebook party where I’m essentially asking them to buy something from me was way out of my comfort zone. But, I figured it would be worth it, considering all the free books I would get out of it.
Another disappointing party result: the prize winner was not to be announced the evening of the party. At the time, I couldn’t figure out why. Now I know that the consultant wanted to give people more time to shop, and to give them more opportunities to engage with the posts so and spend more money.
I guess it would have been nice to know when to expect to learn the winner, so I wasn’t sitting on the edge of my seat all evening.
The Post-Party Work
Because I had so few sales, my consultant strongly encouraged me to reach out to each of my party guests, thank them for attending, and ask if they needed any help choosing books.
To me, this felt like a very pushy sales tactic that I wanted no part of. Like I said, I’m an introvert. Pushy sales tactics are NOT for introverts, I can tell. You. That. However, I felt very conflicted. On one hand, I did not want to be that annoying party hostess pestering her guests for money, which is what that felt like to me.
On the other hand…I already went through the work of hosting and engaging with all the posts…did I really want to walk away with nothing? That would mean that the social anxiety I already experienced involved with this whole thing would have been for nothing.
So, I did the personal messaging thing, the whole time feeling like I was pimping myself out for these books. I did end up getting a few more sales, but not enough to qualify for much more than a book or two in free merchandise credits.
Some good did come of that first party. For one, I really loved the books I ended up getting (most of which were not discounted). My daughter loved the books. The illustrations were beautiful, I appreciated the message, and they provided lots of interaction for my daughter as we read them together.
The shipping was FAST. It only took a few days, which was much quicker than I expected.
The party was fun
The party itself was a good time, for me at least. I love a reason to talk about books and learn about what other peoples’ kids enjoy reading. I love any excuse to look at or buy books, honestly.
Opportunity to connect with friends
Even though it felt very uncomfortable for me to personally message people and check in, I did end up chatting with some old friends I hadn’t talked to in a while. We got to talking a bit about the different kinds of books our littles enjoy reading. So, that was nice.
Failed to meet expectations
Like I said, I went into this party with pretty high expectations. I read about the average hostess receiving about $75 in free books, and hoped to get at least CLOSE to that in free book credits. I was so disappointed in how little the party made and I felt very misled. To this day I don’t know if I went into that party with unrealistically high expectations, or if the “average” sales calculations published by Usborne are misleading. Maybe my experience was common, maybe not.
The prize giveaway
So, the prize giveaway is the whole aspect of the party that keeps people engaged in the posts. The idea is that with each interaction, you get a raffle ticket. If it worked like any other raffle, those who interact the most would have the highest chances of winning.
I have to say, at any Usborne party I’ve been to, that does not seem to be the case. At my party, the prize winner ended up being a party guest who showed interest in hosting a party in the future, and her “prize” was that if she hosted, she would receive extra discounts.
Fishy, right? It felt very rigged. It felt like that person was chosen as the winner to benefit the consultant.
Again, maybe this was an unrealistic expectation on my end, but I kind of assumed that as the hostess, my shipping would be paid for. That was not the case. All party guests, including the hostess, had to spend $75 before they qualified for shipping. I don’t know about you, but most people I know (including myself) are not willing to drop $75 on books in one go.
I don’t love how much it bothered me that none of my party attendees that I previously bought from returned the favor. Not a one. But, this is an honest review, so I’ll admit that it really bothered me.
Also, to put it bluntly, I felt like I pimped myself out for these books that I had no real investment in. I went out of my way to reach out to people and pester them to buy these books from me, and barely got anything in exchange. For an introvert, that is not a good feeling. It’s not a good feeling for ANYONE, but especially an introvert who hates even the idea of pestering people for sales.
I felt icky.
You’re probably wondering (like my husband did), if my first experience was so bad, why in God’s name was I willing to do another one?
The truth is, I got suckered into more Usborne parties, and found a consultant I liked. I heard of friends who had much better experiences with her, so I felt encouraged. Also, it had been almost a year since the first party, so I obviously needed more books at that point. Right!?
The overall party experience was pretty similar, since Uusborne consultants have something of a formula they use with pre-made posts.
Better consultant experience
The consultant I worked with for the second party was much more engaged with the audience. I thought the posts were more fun than those of the previous party.
Once again, I really enjoyed the books I got. I continue to recommend Usborne books to other parents because I really do appreciate them and believe they are high-quality.
More sales= more free books
With the second party, even though I didn’t do much reaching out and personally messaging people, I managed to score more free books with more party sales. Granted, most of the people who bought books from me were my closest family and friends. Still–I’m counting it as a win.
The prize giveaway
I realize it sounds petty to review a prize giveaway. However, since the giveaway is such a large part of the party itself, I believe more thought should be put into it. Usborne consultants use the prize giveaway as the main bribe to get people to interact with each of the party posts. This is how every Usborne party I’ve been to is set up.
Let me just say that at just about every one of these parties I’ve attended/hosted, I’ve been THE most engaged party participant. Like I said, I like free books. Anway, even though the odds are in my favor of ONE DAY winning that stinkin’ prize, I never have. Never ever. In BOTH parties I hosted, a guest that engaged just a couple of times won the prize, and it was someone who showed interest in hosting a party or becoming a consultant.
So, it’s hard for me to believe those giveaways aren’t rigged.
The discount setup is based on a hierarchy. It seems pretty cut-and-dry, but my consultant had a very confusing way of calculating the discounts I earned. Rather than just totaling everything up all together, I was asked to fill out a form of which books I wanted for half price, which books I wanted for free, and which books I wanted to pay full price for. It was very confusing, and no other retailer would use a system like that for discounts. It’s typically just an automated calculation. Unfortunately, the discount I was given by the consultant was much smaller than what I believed I was supposed to receive, based on the hierarchy. (Here’s an example of the hierarchy, based on November 2022).
I don’t know if this is standard (since I wasn’t asked to fill out any sort of form for my first party), or if each consultant handles this differently.
Cheaper on Amazon
I guess I hadn’t thought to check before, but during this party I realized I could get a lot of the Usborne books on Amazon. Sometimes, they were cheaper on Amazon. Rarely were they more expensive. If you factor in the free shipping from Amazon versus the shipping you will no doubt pay through Usborne, it REALLY makes purchasing through Amazon more desirable.
Here’s one example:
What are Germs? is currently (as of this writing) selling on Amazon for $11.76 with free shipping. Usborne is currently selling it on their catalog for$12.99.
In this case, the only reason to purchase through Usborne is to support the consultant or whoever is hosting the party.
There wasn’t much ugly to this party. Overall, it was a much better experience, probably because I went into it with very low hopes.
The only thing I’ll note here is that once again, people whose parties I attended and bought from did attend my party without purchasing anything. I was a little disappointed, but not surprised this time. Like I said–realistic expectations. Perhaps that unspoken social obligation I mentioned earlier about buying from the people who bought from you is truly not a thing.
Would I do it again?
Probably not. I won’t swear by that, because by now you should know that I’m a sucker for books, period.
The only way I would consider hosting in the future is if there was a guarantee that I would get more free books/discounts. For example, if I was given a free book in exchange for hosting, along with paid shipping and realistic opportunities for more free/discounted books, I would MAYBE consider it. But, only if I knew people were genuinely interested in attending and buying some books–because they WANTED to, not to pity me.
Would I recommend it?
I think a lot of people would really enjoy hosting an Usborne/PaperPie party. Yes, there are definitely going to be people like me who find it really uncomfortable. But, for sales-oriented people who don’t mind reaching out to people and appreciate the challenge of getting more sales, it might be a great opportunity.
If you’ve read this article and my experience didn’t scare you away, then I’m willing you bet you would really enjoy hosting.
If you’ve had a similar experience, mention it in the comments below. I’d love to know how my experience compares to others.