Island men hope to score with a website for book lovers

Chris Laursen (left) and Sam Griswold, founders of — Photo courtesy of Bookscore

Is the book dead? Conflicting reports over the last few years give us cause to wonder. The book publishing business is at the very least undergoing profound changes, but there is still a hardcore group of book lovers, whether they read books printed on paper or on their computers or hand-held devices.

Sam Griswold, 27, and his good friend Chris Laursen, who just turned 30, count themselves among these book-lovers. They are Island-grown friends who share an apartment in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section of New York. Mr. Griswold’s family home is in West Tisbury, Mr. Laursen’s in Tisbury.

Deciding to share their love of books, they created a website called that went live three weeks ago. It is for book lovers or anyone who would like a centralized place to find out more about books.

“A big reason we are making the site is because although a lot of people say that print is dying and nobody reads anymore, there is still a lot of great writing out there,” Mr. Griswold said. “Hopefully this can draw attention to some of it.”

The nascent site is a review aggregator. Bookscore collects links to published book reviews. Visitors to the site are encouraged to request new books to be included in the listings. If at least five reviews of a book are found online, Bookscore will read and rate the reviews using their own scoring system of 1 to 10. The average score of the ratings is then assigned to the book. Links to the online reviews are provided if Bookscore visitors want to read and compare reviews.

The site encourages input from viewers and they intend to increase their content to include as wide a range of books as possible. The books currently listed are primarily new books because it can be hard to locate five reviews of older books, Mr. Griswold said.

Bookscore has a blog section that is a forum for discussing reviews and scores, and there is a news section about the book industry and upcoming publications. One posting alerts readers to a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald that was originally rejected by the New Yorker magazine in 1936 that they finally published in July. They plan to include interviews with authors, preview early reviews of books that have just hit the market, and provide links to articles and other writing online.

“I had the idea a couple of years ago,” Mr. Griswold said. “There were sites I liked that rated music, movies and video games but I thought the ones on books were hard to navigate and were frustrating. I thought it would be a cool idea to have an easy-to-use book site.”

Mr. Griswold has a paying job working as a proofreader for a company that translates documents. He graduated from Wesleyan University, where he played soccer, with a degree in Italian studies. He has translated his love of sports into a part-time job as the host of an online sports show.

Mr. Laursen earned his bachelors degree from UMass Lowell in graphic design. He is a freelance web designer who is also working on video and photography projects including a documentary on surfing. He has done much of the design work on the website. The website programing was done by Rick Mello of Oak Bluffs, the webmaster for the MV Times.

The next thing they plan to work on is a way to pay for the site. “I hope the site will pay for itself by the time we have 500 books up,” said Mr. Griswold. “We are hoping that people who come to the site will help build it by requesting books for us to list. We think this is the best way to build the site.” He said he thinks it might be time to put a business plan together.

Their goals are not modest. They state on their site that they want to provide the reader “with as much information as possible on any given book as well as helping uncover new books and authors while keeping the reader connected and up to date on all the goings on in the literary universe.”

Contact Bookscore at, or visit their website at