I've been thinking about this topic for a while now - supporting those that offer free content.
Webcomics are an excellent example - we, the readers, are given free content that we enjoy and in return are asked to support the creator. The most obvious method is to buy books or merchandise - but how many of us actually do? Some of my favourite webcomics (PVP, Penny Arcade, Looking For Group) all offer collections of the comics for sale, but I only own the PVP Awesomology.
But why is this? My knee-jerk reaction is that (as someone in Canada) we usually have to pay a gross amount for shipping. But LFG is in Canada! I could buy the books at a local book or comic store (or online) but I prefer to buy directly from the creator. I bought The Awesomology from Scott Kurtz at Emerald City Comic Con and had him sign and draw in it. I think the creator makes more money from the sale that way, but I don't know for sure. So in the end I buy nothing?!
There's also the concept of value for money. Scott Sigler (our Future Dark Overlord) has just released The Rookie and The Starter on eBook - each is priced at $7.99; I struggle with the price of eBooks. Part of me thinks they should be under $5 given there are no printing or shipping costs, yet the trend is for people to only buy an eBook version so the creator certainly should be paid appropriately.
To tie this back to the title of this post, Scott has released The Rookie as a free podiobook series, and The Starter free podiobook will start in February 2011. So I could wait until February and listen for free, or I could get off my ass and support a creator whose works I enjoy.