You may have noticed that quite a few Austen adaptations have appeared over the last few years. In the "Introduction," the editors explain that seven films or mini-series were produced between 1970 and 1986, and six more appeared between 1995 and 1996.
The reason you may have heard of some, if not all, of these productions is because, as the editors say, "Technological changes have also enhanced the opportunities for hyping the films." Any time an adaptation opens the eyes of the general public to a classic work that may otherwise have been overlooked, those viewers are more likely to seek out the original to gain some sense of the world and characters that Austen created.
In "Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility as Gateway to Austen's Novel," M. Casey Diana explains, "Many English instructors use film clips in an effort to help students visually 'connect' with the text." In the classroom, Diana studies how students react to Austen's Sense and Sensibility. "Some of the students read the book first, then watch the movie; the other group of students watch the movie first, then read the book.
The editors say that Austen taps into something, that she gives us the "historical fantasy" with the accompanying "harsh ridicule" of snobbishness. And the films provides something of an escape from reality, a way to "hide from the uncertainties" of modern-day society.