I know many business out there offer digital files as a product, whether exclusively or as an option in addition to more tangible goods. As a full time photographic professional I have a vested interest in exploring all the available options when it comes to product delivery. Needless to say, I think about this stuff a lot.
I had an interesting discussion with a friend just this week. In her younger years she had done some modelling for a prominent (and now deceased) photographer. When the photographer's family were going through the process of sorting through his body of work they came across some beautiful big black and white prints which had been made 30 years earlier of my client. They contacted her and gave her the three prints, which she was thrilled to accept. The prints were perfect, just as the photographer had intended.
It got me wondering where some of my digital files might be in 30 years and whether any of my clients will experience the same thrill?
I believe one of the major pitfalls of digital delivery is the fragility of the medium. I would very generously estimate that 99.9% of domestic households have the infrastructure to effectively archive digital media. The vast majority of photographers don't even have such a system in place!
As a photographer, I love photographic prints. They are timeless and tangible. They last. I know that I have work hanging on my clients walls which will be enjoyed (or sometimes chuckled at) by their grandchildren's grandchildren someday. I am not so confident that my electronic data will still be accessible to the same generation that will enjoy the physical prints created from them.
In short, I have more faith in the longevity of physical prints than digital files and I want to provide my clients with something of inherent value which transcends the here and now.
I'd be interested in continuing this discussion with some of the folk here.