The publishing firm behind magazines such as Esquire and Cosmopolitan has announced that it is planning on launching an ebook to help stave off the slide in magazine subscriptions.

According to Fortune magazine "Hearst Corp., is getting set to launch an electronic reader that it hopes can do for periodicals what Amazon's Kindle is doing for books".

According to "industry insiders" the article suggests that the company has "developed a wireless e-reader with a large-format screen suited to the reading and advertising requirements of newspapers and magazines. The device and underlying technology, which other publishers will be allowed to adapt, is likely to debut this year".

"Hearst executives declined to provide specifics about the forthcoming e-reader, but Kenneth Bronfin, who heads up the interactive media group for Hearst, told Fortune in an interview for a forthcoming magazine story that the publishing company has a deep expertise in the technology. 'I can't tell you the details of what we are doing, but I can say we are keenly interested in this, and expect these devices will be a big part of our future,' Bronfin told Fortune".

Amazon launched its latest version of its ebook reader the Kindle 2 earlier this month in New York as it hopes to dominate ebook sales in the US.

Although the Amazon has yet to officially announce a launch in the UK, UK print publishers including the Daily Mail have already expressed an interest in creating digital content for the device if and when it lands in the UK.

Hearst Corp owns Nat Mags in the UK suggesting we could see the ebook on the high street before Christmas here in Blighty too.