Packt Publishing (news, site) announced that it has donated over US$ 300,000 to open source projects. The technical book publisher has provided financial support to open source projects since 2004, long before open source gained its current favored position in the enterprise.

Packt’s Continuing Open Source Support

Packt has been in a love affair with open source since its beginning. The company’s community outreach and business is closely tied to the open source community. In fact, the first book the company published in early 2004 was Mastering phpMyAdmin for Effective MySQL Management,which the company followed with its first open source financial donation.

Since that first contribution in 2004 to phpMyAdmin, Packt has demonstrated its commitment to open source that extends far beyond a publishing revenue stream. The company has provided consistent support to over 70 open source endeavors via its annual Open Source Award and Open Source Project Royalty Scheme initiatives.

Open Source Awards

Packt’s Open Source Awards, formerly the Open Source CMS Awards, began in 2006 with the goals of encouraging, supporting, recognizing and rewarding Open Source projects. The awards, which include projects in categories such as JavaScript library, graphics and content management, are one of the primary mechanisms the company uses to recognize and support open source.

Although Packt Publishing sponsors the contest, the company has no influence, input or say in the finalists or winners of any award category. This avoids the perception of bias by the company and using the contest to drive book sales. To identify winning Open Source projects, the public votes for the finalists in each category and the results are combined with ratings from a panel of judges. Well-known open source packages such as WordPress, Drupal, jQuery and Gimp have been recipients of community-driven Open Source Awards. The awards alone have resulted in over US $ 75,000 in prizes since their inception.

Open Source Royalty Scheme

In addition to the sustained support Packt offers with the open source awards, the company also has a book royalty program that supports open projects and communities. When the company sells a book written on an open source project, it pays a royalty directly to that project. According to Packt, it is part of the Open Source ecosystem and concerned with providing consistent revenue for the projects it publishes on. The company hopes it can establish publishing royalties as an essential part of the "service and support" business model that sustains open source.

As open source continues to grow in popularity, lots of commercial organizations are emerging that leverage the tools to increase their bottom line. However, few of the companies have gone as far as Packt to make sure that the relationship is reciprocal.