When Barnes & Noble issued an operating system update to its popular Nook Color last week, the bookseller made it clear that it is attempting to bridge the gap between the e-reader and media tablet market.

The version 1.2.0 update is the most significant to the Nook Color to date. The e-reader, which runs on Google's Android 2.2. mobile operating system, has moved beyond the territory of electronic books with the addition of email capabilities, enhanced social features and, of course, new apps.

While the e-reader does not yet boast the plethora of apps found on most tablets, such as the Apple iPad and Android-based devices, Barnes & Noble has gotten off to a solid start, currently offering around 140 apps, including PDF reader, Epicurious and the fan-favorite Angry Birds.

The update is available now for manual installation on Barnes & Noble's website. The bookseller is also pushing out an automatic update via Wi-Fi over the next few weeks.

According to a recent IDC report, 14.7 million e-readers are expected to ship in 2011, a sizable increase from the estimated 10.8 million in 2010. As of the third quarter 2010, the Nook ranked third in terms of worldwide e-reader shipments.