first off, i love photo, so i'm always happy to get someone else involved in my favorite vice.
as for any useful information i can give, that's always a little dodgy, but here goes:
any 35mm camera can shoot B&W film, so don't bother buying a manual camera or anything fancy until you know if you really want one. likewise, pretty much any photo finisher can develop your film for you, though it pays to shop around your neighborhood to find someone with good quality and a good price. you're not going to get "one-hour" type of service, though, unless you use film that they can print on color paper and i don't recommend that because i hate the reddish hue your prints will have...but that's just me.
the best way to get cheap film is to buy a lot of it at once or to buy bulk-loaded film (film that is put into reused cannisters rather than in "kodak" style packaging.) i often buy my film from freestyle http://www.freestylephoto.biz/
and find them to be fairly cheap, really quick and easy to deal with. they have great clearance deals, too!
a great place to learn about photo without having to pay a lot is to go to your local community college and either take a class or show "polite" interest and chat some people up. they can give you tons of help, if they're a mind to. for me, the joy of photo is in the printing, not the shooting, and a community college is the cheapest way to have access to good quality darkroom supplies to learn the skills and to be a part of a creative and collaborative environment.
as for books, my favorite "beginners" manual is by henry horenstein, _black and white photography: a basic manual_, but if you don't want to learn the technical process, you can develop your eye by just looking at a lot of photos you like and figuring out what it is about them that you like.
man, i do ramble on!