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Barnes & Noble Honeycomb E-Reader this Month?

Wednesday book retailer Barnes & Noble told analysts and investors that it's slated to reveal a new e-reader later on this month. The announcement arrives just over a week after the company released an update to the 7-inch Nook Color's Android operating system that adds an app store, Adobe Flash support and more, seemingly transforming the e-book reader into a low-cost Android tablet.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing released after the close of trading Wednesday, Barnes & Noble "indicated [in a meeting that] it expects to make an announcement on May 24, 2011, regarding the launch of a new eReader device." The statement was made in compliance with Regulation FD fair disclosure rules, and didn't provide any additional details about the hardware or software.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Barnes & Noble spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating declined to comment beyond the 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but confirmed that the meeting took place in New York City. Analysts attending the meeting didn't return any phone calls.

Given the direction that Barnes & Noble has taken with the Nook Color "tablet," the retail chain is expected to reveal a tablet-like device sporting Google's Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" operating system later this month. The new features that were recently added to the Nook Color platform-- including a fully-featured email client, Flash support and app store, are also expected to arrive on the new device.

Barnes & Noble's original Nook e-reader currently sells for $149 and features a 6-inch eInk (monochrome) screen and 2 GB of storage. The Nook Color is considerably more expensive at $249, but offers a 7-inch color touchscreen, 8 GB of storage, can access the Internet, and currently runs on Google's Android 2.2 "Froyo" OS. Thanks to the addition of the Nook Apps, owners of the latter device can now play Angry Birds, Uno, Dead Space and more.

Microsoft sued Barnes & Noble last month, accusing the book chain of patent infringement related to the Nook device. The Redmond-based company holds patents to technology used on the Android platform, mainly those relating to navigation and how Web sites present content. Microsoft tried to negotiate a licensing agreement with Barnes & Noble, but did not have any success.