They are simply responding to a consumer demand and trend. Hence, one can easily position themselves as an authority and a credible organization to deal with by providing good information to people, without the sales pitch or catch. One important thing to remember however is to make the information useful and valuable. Time is a very important resource to many people these days.
So, if you expect a person to give you even 5 email list minutes of their time to read your email or article, then it's only fair, in fact I believe it is your obligation, to give that person some real value in return. Many people don't like 'being sold to'. Most of us prefer the feeling of having bought. Sharing good useful information via VAM with your email list is a great way to develop rapport with your list.
Making a connection with an individual, even if it is through an email, is more important in business now than ever before. The way of doing business these days has become more and more dependent on a consumer making some sort of personal connection with the person or organization behind that product or service.