Usborne is a major independent UK publishing company that publishes almost every type of children's book for every age from baby to teenager. As such, it has a well-deserved reputation for delivering top-quality books and it is rare to find a home or nursery that doesn't have several well-thumbed Usborne books tucked away somewhere.
One of the innovative ways that Usborne goes about its business is via what the company refers to as Usborne organisers: that is, somebody home-based who sells the books for a commission. Nursery organisers frequently do this as it enables them to obtain discount books and to make a little money on the side by selling direct to parents. Generally, the profits made - and they can be substantial - are put back into the nursery/playgroup. Commission varies but starts at around 25%.
So what does Usborne have to do with the BNP?
Not a great deal as far as we know, but as we are all aware, the BNP is full of money-making scams and schemes and one of its current schemes is, we have found, selling Usborne books.
The BNP's childen's books section - sold via Excalibur, its cheap-tat-flogging arm - is a tad limited. For instance, while it sells Usborne's books on Nelson, Florence Nightingale and Saint George and the Dragon (no surprise there), it manages to avoid offering some of Usbornes other history books on subjects such as the Holocaust, Anne Frank or Martin Luther King.
All Usborne organisers have to sign an Organiser Agreement before they are allowed to sign up and start selling. Some of the terms and conditions are listed below:
(3.1) You will conduct your business as an Usborne Organiser in an ethical and honest manner, and do nothing which may harm or damage the reputation of that business or the Company, or bring the Company into disrepute.
Clearly, whoever the organiser is, has not conducted their business in an ethical or honest manner, being in breach of section (3.3). Also, we believe an assumed relationship with the BNP would be damaging to the reputation of Usborne and would certainly bring it into disrepute.
(3.3) You will not sell the company’s products through or to any retail outlet, including on-line outlets, whether hosted by yourself or a third party. The only exception is if you have an official Usborne templated website, and you are compliant with all Usborne copyright requirements in all areas of your Usborne business.
The Usborne books on the Excalibur website can only be reached via the BNP's own website. Both are retail outlets and neither have an official Usborne template. As the BNP constantly disregards copyright, we doubt that it is compliant with Usborne's copyright requirements at all.
(14) This Agreement may be terminated immediately by either party if either party commits a material breach of its obligations to the other or if you do
anything which in the opinion of the Company is prejudicial to the Company's interests. Either party may otherwise terminate this Agreement by giving to the other not less than 14 days written notice.
It seems to us that the BNP - or the person who has taken on the role of an Usborne organiser and is selling via the BNP's Excalibur site - has breached these terms and has almost certainly acted in a way that 'is prejudicial to the Company's interests'. We feel sure that Usborne will want this association with the BNP broken - but they need to be informed in no uncertain terms that the association is there and that people are not happy about it. Thus, we would like you to get in touch with Usborne, to let them know your views on this matter. Please report back via the comments to this article.
Like a lot of other companies, Usborne does not display an email address, but it does have an online form to fill in here. If you prefer to write or phone, the details are below.
Usborne Books at Home
Unit 8, Oasis Park
Oxon OX29 4TU
+44 (0) 1865 883731
+44 (0) 1865 883759