Ted Chiang drops a nice point over in Gladwell’s comments:
"Surely an idea is more consequential than a sentence."
In the context of copyright law, this is not true. Copyright is intended to protect the expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves. One can decry the extremism of recent intellectual-property legislation and rulings and still support this basic premise.
Almost all fiction deals with the same basic ideas: love and death. What distinguishes Shakespeare from Joe Blow are the sentences.
See also, Ms. Link’s comment (which you should really go read all of):
Point number two: Genre fiction (young adult, science fiction, mysteries) is not necessarily more formulaic than any other kind of art. Formulaic fiction is formulaic. That’s about as far as I think you can push this argument, and even then, the most original works of art depends — just as formulaic fiction does — on the writer and the reader being aware of (or emotionally attuned to) certain patterns or formulas. Writers set up and then elaborate on, or break, or distort certain patterns. Or else they present the same formula, but so elegantly (or at least so capably) that the reader is charmed into seeing it in a new light.
UDPATED: Gladwell concedes defeat.