Some of the more common ones are bookmarks, postcards, and pens. I've also seen ones like teabags with covers on them, little bags of candy, chewing gum or lifesavers with the author info on the wrappers.
More expensive and unusual ones include chapstick with the author info on the label, little stuffed toys (hearts, animals, etc.), tissue holders, little bottles of bubble blowing stuff, post-it pads, letter openers (the little plastic things with a razor in them), refrigerator magnets, etc.
The biggest problem I see with the first group is how throw-awayable they are. Yes, they are inexpensive, but everyone does them so nobody really looks at them. They take a look, then toss them in the nearest trash can. Or if they're around something usable like the candy, they get tossed in a bag or purse and forgotten about.
The second group is more memorable, but a lot more expensive for the author (and yes, the author is most often the one who pays for them). You may end up spending more than you've actually made in royalties for something nobody is really going to use.
My question to you is, what gets your notice on a freebie table? What would make you look at someone's book just because of their promo materials? If you're an author, what inexpensive ways have you found to promote your work? I'd really like to know (as I sit here with my bookmarks and postcards).
Progress last night - 66 pages of word-by-word editing. Oh, my eyes!
Birthdays: Pearl Buck, Thomas Boyle, Colin Wilson, John Mactaggart
Tips and Teasers: Create a writing web. Get a large piece of paper and draw a circle in the center. Jot an idea down in this circle. Now draw lines out and start imagining – who is going to be in the story goes on one (or more) line(s). Things that could go wrong. Settings. Create a story web where everything is connected. This will be the basis of your book.
Thought for the day: "It is a delicious thing to write, whether well or badly; to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating." - Gustave Flaubert