I discovered James Bond with the movies. Though admittedly uneven, they set a standard for big-budget globe-trotting action that's still followed today. I also appreciate how most of the movies manage to convey sex appeal while keeping a PG rating.
The Bond books were some of the first I read for pleasure, and I found a character more serious and more vulnerable than in many of the movies.
I think Timothy Dalton's Bond was closest to Fleming's intent, and his two movies (THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, LICENCE TO KILL) brought a seriousness and realism to the franchise that hadn't been seen since early Connery.
I think James Bond has endured because he appeals to the enduring fantasies of men and women. He's a sexy character who, when not living dangerously, gets to indulge in the finest life has to offer.