I've just read this article, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/7994914/Philip-Pullman-and-Philip-Hensher-criticise-Booker-Prize-for-including-present-tense-novels.html
I don't know where to begin... yes, I do - I write in present tense.
I don't do it because it's fashionable, I don't do it because other people are doing it. My first published story in 1994 was in present tense and it's how I feel most comfortable writing; it's not a conscious decision, anymore than the voice that emerges. I haven't eshued past tense - although I can't think of an example right now, I'm sure I have used it in the past (excuse the pun) and I'm sure for those stories it felt entirely natural.
I find the present tense adds urgency, a sense of foreboding (which creeps into my writing quite a lot) and draws the reader in.
When I am reading, I certainly don't notice the use of present tense as a device; I don't notice it at all. I am usually captured by the story. The style adds to the whole experience, indeed; but if it jars as much as Philip Pullman suggests, he's obviously not reading a novel that is truly engaging him.
(Apologies for still not knowing how to do the linky thing properly)