It's no secret that Barnes & Noble's eBook pricing has seen come recent changes. The $9.99 blanket price for new releases has been blown away and expect to see high prices on average. But the nook supports a variety of file formats and DRM schemes that allow you load eBooks from a various sources, shopping around for the best prices.
Free & Cheap Books from Barnes & Noble
Prices are going up, but that doesn't mean all the prices are going up. Mostly new releases are getting hit the hardest. Many older releases aren't seeing dramatic, if any, price increases. There are free books available, and still plenty of books in the sub-$5 range.
Barnes & Noble Big Deals (most eBooks in the $1-5 range)
Barnes & Noble Free eBook Search (currently lists 951,754 results)
Barnes & Noble - All Product Search, Under $5 (currently lists 61,380 results)
Public Domain & Open Licensed
Public domain is the rule, copyright is the exception. Most of the greatest literature of the world is free, available to the everyone as part of our collective culture. Get intellectualized and read the classics. Additionally, some authors recognize value in giving their work away and provide their art under creative common or other open-license model.
Sometimes going with the major distribution system isn't a possibility. There are other avenues for some great small or unknown authors to distribute their work and make a little money by charging far less than what the major publishing houses think we should pay.
Other eBook Stores
Competition is a good thing, and sometimes competing eBook stores have different prices. Check out some of these other stores and make sure you're getting the best deal for the books you choose to pay for.
Many libraries offer digital lending using OverDrive and Adobe Digital Editions. Check to see if you can load content loaned from your library that you're already paying for with your taxes.
The best news is by the (wo)man-on-the-street. People finding free eBooks and letting everyone else know. Here are blogs of people keeping the rest of us informed.
If anyone else has any other sources of getting free or cheap eBooks, or any alternatives to using Barnes & Noble for comparative price shopping, please share them. Also, any eBooks posted on the net by the authors for free distribution would be great to hear about, too.