I also strongly recommend to skip guided tour, just buy a brochure and explore by yourself. I did both, and found out that guide info quite the same as info in brochure. Though, we had very good guide who was able to answer any question about history and getting around the camp. Also, in guided tour price included a 15 min documentary film about camp, after seeing it the least I wanted to check out the camp in real... Well, again, you able to buy a ticket just for film and skip tour.
What to buy: White colour brochure, avalaible on different languages - $1.
A few small shops selling guide books, maps and educational material.
What to buy: The museum offers guided tours of the camps interest zones but I found it better to wander around at my own pace. I bought a small, waterproof map that has a map of Auschwitz 1 on one side and Birkenau on the other. It also lists the places and items of interest. You can also purchase a small guide book which expands on the places shown on the map.
What to pay: Both the guide book and the map are very inexpensive - 1E each or thereabouts.
At the visitor center before the entrance into Auschwitz I, there is an excellent bookshop. It has a large selection of reading material to choose from concerning the Holocaust and the camps. You should be able to find literature in several different languages here.
What to buy:
There is nothing like exploring a place on your own. You can see what you want and at the pace you want. Before starting your own self-tour, it may be worth buying a brochure and map (under $1 USD), both of which made a great interpretation of the Polish and German texts. So, as you can see there is really no need to take an actual personal tour guide. In fact, I’m indebted to the brochure as I have used it as a research tool in remembering what I did and saw that day. It is because of it that I was able to make this page for you.
What to pay: About $1 USD