And sure, this could be an email (all of the same principles would apply), but a letter makes things official in every sense. It also gives you a prop to take along to the face_to_face meeting with your boss, when you let him or her know that you're leaving.
What Else Should I Do When Resigning? First, out of respect and common courtesy, you would ideally tell your manager in person that you are resigning. If you can't wait for that or work remotely or some other complication prevents that, the telephone is the next best option. You can choose to follow up or accompany that discussion with a formal letter of resignation afterwards, but it would be a rare workplace that would require that formality.