If you think Peter Mendelsund went through a lot to get to the final version of the cover for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, just imagine what Michael J. Windsor's work life was like past year. Windsor was the designer of one of the most iconic and ubiquitous book covers of the decade, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, which not only seemed to be held in front of the face of every third person on my bus in the mid-'00s, but which set off a small industry of speculation with its clues about the subject of Brown's next book. So when that book, The Lost Symbol, arrived this year, Windsor was tapped again to translate Brown's symbological vision onto glossy paper (and, not trivially, to create a cover enticing enough to protect Doubleday's multimillion-dollar investment in their most popular author). Do you think a few people had opinions about how that cover should look?
Windsor took a more traditional path to book designing than Mendelsund: he studied graphic design in art school, and then worked at Simon & Schuster before joining Doubleday around a decade ago. Aside from being Brown's regular cover designer, he mentions a few other favorites from his work, some of which we've highlighted here and some below. (You can read more about him, and see examples of his book and non-book work, on his own site.) We asked him a few questions about the experience (the first time, I believe, that he's discussed working on the cover) and being the Mary GrandPré to Dan Brown's J.K. Rowling:
Amazon.com: Were you one of the first people to read the manuscript of The Lost Symbol?
Windsor: Yes, I was one of the few who got to read it early ... locked in my office under the watchful eye of armed security! There were secret knocks and handshakes that I had to be presented with before I could let anyone into my workspace while I had the manuscript. It was all very cloak-and-dagger of course.