I had a thought today thinking about the Dragonborn book (see my review, btw), in that that book serves as a perfect companion to a DDI subscription. If you have a DDI account, and you don’t get any of the books because you assume that all you need is in the compendium, character builder or adventure tools, then you are left to your own devices to figure out the fluff behind the material. DDI, after all, is all stats (minus of course the magazines, I’m thinking more builder/compendium).
So then now (in my opinion) WOTC faces a conundrum: how to get people who will stop buying books because DDI has all they need to buy books again? Well, first your hardcover books have to have a lot more creativity behind them than just stats and numbers. There needs to be fluff, and I think that they get it over there at Wizards. As @krypt0nian pointed out on twitter, since Primal Power came out, the fluff content in the books has grown. This is particularly present in the Dragonborn book, where I think there is a greater emphasis on the fluff rather than the crunch of the book.
I’m of the thinking that this is a win win for all, WOTC and the consumer. A commenter noted that the Dragonborn book in particular would have been a great book to sell as a PDF, and I agree. 32 pages, low price point, yes it would be great and maybe in the future they’ll return to that format. But for now, as a pamphlet, it isn’t a bad companion piece for the player or DM who relies on the Character Builder and the other digital tools to run their games. I think that WOTC may be on its way to finding a balance between DDI/dead tree format/decent price points… just my $.02
Of course, all this fluff matters only if you care for and like their 4e setting, although you can always mine content off of it for your campaigns, as I do.