If you're not from New York then you surely know that the city has a reputation for a certain amount of rudeness. It's really not true. New Yorkers aren't any ruder than anyone else or from any other city. Yes, we do everything a lot faster and have less patience for slowness than elsewhere in the world. However, I think we just don't want to be bothered by anyone handing us flyers or begging for money or asking directions or any other sort of random nonsense and that comes off as rudeness. But most New Yorkers are actually very helpful if they aren't rushing off somewhere. Though that's actually rather rare that we're not rushing from one place to another. We do have helpful opinions and ideas about everything and anything and are usually not afraid to share a good tip on a restaurant or a quick way to get somewhere.
One thing we New Yorkers do love is to point out other people's rudeness. So we're used to seeing great signs like the one taped to the information desk/book pick up counter downstairs in the basement at The Strand Book Store telling us exactly how not to be rude. There are a lot of books behind the counter awaiting pickup and I can just imagine it can get pretty frustrating when people come up to the desk all day long and point a finger in the general direction of the massive wall of books and say "I have those books right THERE on hold."
All that being said, The Strand has a really great system for ordering books. You just call and place your order and they find it in the 18 trillion miles of books (and growing) and wrap a rubber band around the books and place them behind the counter awaiting your eventual pickup. It's super efficient, just don't be rude and point your finger.