Becoming the first American magazine publisher to directly tap into the evolving electronic reader market, Hearst Corp. is said to be developing its own wireless device, featuring a large-format screen that’s conducive to reading magazines.

Citing “industry insiders,” Fortune senior writer Michael Copeland today wrote that the mega magazine publisher has been developing the device and underlying technology and is looking to launch the product sometime this year. While Hearst executives declined to talk to Fortune about its plans, interactive media head Ken Bronfin said Hearst is “keenly interested” in e-readers and expects the devices will “be a big part of our future.”

According to Fortune, plans to sell the device to publishers and take a cut of the revenue from selling digital subscriptions. Hearst would leave it up to publishers to develop their own branding and payment models.

Hearst has experimented with the technology before. Last fall, Esquire’s 75th anniversary October issue featured the industry’s first flexible electronic "paper" cover, which allowed words and images to scroll across it. The cover was developed in part by E Ink, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based electronic paper display technologies firm that developed the electronic paper display technology for Amazon’s Kindle and the Sony Reader.

Hearst Interactive Media acquired a stake in E Ink about seven years ago.

Earlier this month, Amazon launched its upgraded Kindle 2.0 reader. Plastic Logic, a Mountain View, California-based company, says it plans to launch a new electronic reading device in 2010 and has partnered with digital vendor Zinio to provide magazine content.