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It is probably because of the usefulness of these kinds of sites to the general public, to the webmaster and to people/products needing exposure. An article directory has it all!
Talk about having free resource on almost any topic imaginable. Article directories hoard articles ranging from DIY's, Xbox launches, inspirational quotes, love and relationships advice, beauty tips, iPod's latest, personality quizzes, legal guidance, resource on divorce, gay and lesbian concerns and even on the extremes, issues concerning terrorism. It's like having a wiki of what everyone knows and thinks of.
The usefulness of article directories to the general public is outdone by its worth to a marketer. An article directory is a free and an inexpensive way for an internet marketer to promote his/her product or service by just writing helpful and useful articles and making use of the resource box to promote his/her goods. It can be done by any marketer in just a matter of hours or minutes for some. You don't have to be a whiz at writing, all you have to do is share what you know and that'll be effective enough. A word of caution though, don't waste your time writing Press Releases because your chance of reprint is 0-0.1%. Article directories don't like them and worst, readers of articles hate them.