Illuminated velum manuscripts containing ancient forbidden knowledge vs . the mass-market paperback discussing the weirdness of quantum mechanics.
The old books definitely have a more impressive appearance and you certainly can make out a case that they were written closer to the source (the origin of mankind lost somewhere in time), but is the knowledge they contain any more useful, valid or crisp than that in the texts of today?
What are the ancient secret texts and where do they come from? Were they written by geniuses or wizards with a direct conduit to truth or God? Or were they written by creative opportunists seeking power or out to make a buck.
The Bible, The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Necronomicon, The Book of Kells. I don't need to mention any of the others.
Today we have hundreds of books analysing these texts and every other religious, esoteric and mysterious book, with no one being the wiser. The spells only work in movies and literature, no one has conjured up Satan, the waves have not parted for millennia and we are still waiting for someone (not using very expensive scientific equipment) to turn lead into gold. Either we have lost the power to interpret these works correctly or we misunderstand what they are saying, or perhaps they never worked in the first place.
In any case, the secret knowledge of past ages has been cast aside and made to look rather ineffectual and redundant when compared to the knowledge of the modern world. There has been a paradigm shift. Faith, belief, magic have been replaced by the actual in its various forms, including the theory of special relativity and the human genome project (published on that other modern day giant: the internet).
The power of these modern works isn't obvious in the text. E=mc² doesn't look like the most powerful weapon of all time and the gobbledygook of the genetic code doesn't reveal that this blueprint is the first step towards a new race of humans. We read about these things, however few people really comprehend and even fewer have the capability to do anything about it.
Every day brings more knowledge and greater understanding. This progress is capable of massive impacts on the physical world, as well as feeding the materialist imperative of the contemporary consumer culture.
The ancient texts, on the other hand, do not influence the physical world directly, but have had a profound effect on the human mind and through that have altered and keep altering the course of history.