If it’s a fairly general “where’s the fusebox-type” question, these forums are a good place to start. There are lots of smart people here who can and do share their knowledge out of the goodness of their hearts…
The challenge is ultimately one of volume. Most support related questions are small. But one author will have many customers. These kinds of questions can (and do) stack up very very quickly. The support cost and policy exists to make sure that our authors can properly resource the reply to these questions and provide customers with a service level of support.
If it’s a piece of information that was promised as part of the purchase, then that’s entirely fair enough. But although some questions might seem quick and easy for an author to answer, I think it’s well worth remembering that what you’re really paying for is expertise.
There’s a little story about this that I enjoy:
After many years at a big company, one of the key Engineers retired. A few weeks later the company’s Big Machine broke down.
Try as he might, the Manager couldn’t get the machine to work again so the company called in the retired Engineer as an independent consultant. The Engineer agrees. He walks into the factory, takes one look at the Big Machine, grabs a small hammer and whacks the machine once whereupon the machine miraculously springs back to life again. He leaves and the staff of the company returns to work.
The next day Manager receives a bill from the Engineer for $5,000. The manager is furious at the price and refuses to pay. The Engineer assures him that the price is more than fair. Manager retorts that if is genuinely a fair price the Engineer won’t mind itemising the hugely expensive bill. The Engineer agrees and produces the following:
Knowing precisely where to hit the machine with hammer: $4995