"If it is so intuitive, why is there such a market for these books ?"
You've said that before, haven't you? I can just imagine marketing departments throughout Silicon Valley falling over themselves to stuff their ad campaigns with buzzwords like "unintuitive", "add brainpower", "if you need it explained, you're too dumb to use it", "RTFM dude". It's obviously a multi-faceted demand. What's totally intuitive for one person is less so for others, to varying degrees and in differing areas of a program. People want to learn faster, discover best practice or confirm their intuition, slavishly follow some wild-eyed guru, etc etc.
Rather like you I use LR without having much affection for it, not like I think I have for some other programs that I've enjoyed using (Excel, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, iView, Cognos PowerPlay, or even Lotus Improv) but I think you're wrong to characterize LR as "old" or "designed by a committee". I'd argue that at times it's too relentlessly built from the ground up (eg metadata presets and sync excludes keywords, point curve, the xsl-based Web engine), and that there's a very tight, almost stubborn direction behind its modular structure and visual coherence. This is so thoroughly-realized that I think it would be fair to describe the interface with words like rigid, blocky, step-like, and I would have preferred the panels to be floating, dockable palettes like in Dreamweaver, and a less modular structure (the UI designer spent time with Macromedia and with Kai). I agree with your point about stacks, wish flags were global by default and local by preference, but think you're mostly wrong about context menus. "Mostly" because I think Auto Sync should be the default and you shouldn't have to Ctrl/Cmd click to enable it - together the the targeted adjustment tool, this is one of my favourite features in LR.
Turning to Aperture, I'll stand. My first thoughts upon using it were it was like a cross between Extensis Portfolio (the product manager is ex Extensis) and SQL Server Enterprise. Is it really Apple-like, whatever that means? The top toolbar is more Microsoft style, pre Office 2007 (thankfully), but otherwise I find its interface remarkably fiddly with at least 5 styles of little buttons scattered in different areas of the screen. Why for example is the Quick Preview button stuck down at the bottom right corner, or those vault buttons in the bottom left? All those little buttons look like pretty good evidence of changes of design direction and compromise, as do the brushed metal and full screen modules, oops views, and the differences between managed and referenced files (I've never been a fan of projects which obscure the real locations of your files and which are a gaping hole in your "much better DAM" judgement). There is plenty I like about the product - I'm a big fan of smart folders, the loupe, the new Quick Preview - and if it were the only show in town and ran on the PC too, I'd use it, but again without a lot of affection.
As for looking forward, I suppose I go back to the old Ansel Adams nostrum about the negative and the performance. To preserve a rendition, save a TIF, but in 5 years' time you'll print the same negs on different paper, with different developer, with different eyes and sensibilities. It would obviously be ideal if all these programs wrote certain "common" adjustments like WB to XMP, and you'd then see people making *good enough* adjustment translation scripts (better still if both programs were scriptable and you could make them talk). But providing your descriptive metadata is transferable, I'm unconvinced that it matters too much if your editing metadata is locked in.