''As Nature Made Him'' and Judith Regan made the news in the book world this week

GENDER BENDERS HarperCollins paid $450,000 for As Nature Made Him, journalist John Colapinto’s book about the man known in medical literature as John/Joan — born male, but turned into a girl after a botched circumcision. Now Dr. Milton Diamond, a Honolulu sexologist who treated John/Joan, wants to do his own book on ”larger issues of gender,” says agent Suzanne Gluck, who plans to send out a proposal in January. And the normally buttoned-down Free Press just bought A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis, by David Friedman, due out in late 1999.

TRAGIC DEVELOPMENTS An ugly spat has broken out between Judith Regan, host of Fox’s TV show That Regan Woman and president of her own HarperCollins imprint, and Peter Manso and Ellen Hawkes, authors of American Girl: The Life and Tragic Times of Margaux Hemingway, which Regan just canceled. Regan claims the manuscript was unacceptable, but others believe that problems with a planned ABC miniseries tie-in led to the book’s demise. According to sources, negotiations between the series’ producers and the network first stalled over Regan’s demand for a $150,000 executive producer’s fee and then fell completely apart when ABC discovered what the book was about. ”Judith had pitched ABC a Hemingway family saga, suitable for a miniseries, not the Margaux Hemingway story, which would be a biopic,” says a source. (ABC officials had no comment.) Regan wouldn’t comment, but ReganBooks marketing director John Ekizian says the miniseries was not the issue: ”There was a lack of cooperation on the other end that made saving the book impossible.” Manso insists he and Hawkes ”were ready to make the fixes and cuts” that Regan wanted. Agent Elaine Markson is shopping the title to other publishers. Meanwhile, another Regan title is faltering: Borders and Barnes & Noble have declined to order the essay anthology Our Mothers’ Spirits: On the Death of Mothers and the Grief of Men, because its hastily redone cover features Princess Diana. ”The cover is a misrepresentation of the content of the book and a crass exploitation of Princess Diana and her sons,” says a Borders buyer.