According to several websites as well as the Wizards of the Coast message boards, copies of D&D 4e are already circulating. Buy.com apparently broke the street date and released the books nearly two weeks early. Wizards of the Coast, fans who didn't pre-order from Buy.com and many brick and mortar game store owners are very upset. To make matters worse there has apparently been a leak at WoTC or the printer because advance copies the books have been popping up on numerous file sharing and bit torrent sites.
There have been unofficial comments from insiders saying that WoTC is more upset by the early release of the hard copies than the digital copies as they expect the downloaded copies to actually drive up sales. Many game shop owners are infuriated by both copies making their way into the public's hands because they have a hard enough time competing with online stores as it is. This is especially true since you can pre-order the books online for around $56 while retail price is over $100.
Given recent events, and the apparent changes in how gamers feel about the new edition I think that 4e will be a success. 4e may be just the thing that the rpg industy needs to pick up some steam. If we are lucky we may be on the verge of a new renaissance in table top gaming.